Turkish warplanes and helicopter gun-ships attack Kurdish rebels along Iraqi border Wednesday, order troops to cross over in pursuit

October 24, 2007, 8:48 PM (GMT+02:00)

A Turkish lawmaker disclosed that the Turkish attack began Sunday, Oct. 21, after more than 12 Turkish troops were killed in an ambush by rebel Kurdish PKK guerrillas. He said F-16 jets and artillery pounded at least 63 rebel positions inside the Kurdish-controlled region and 300 Turkish commandoes were dropped by helicopter into Iraq to hunt down PKK fighters.

There were other reports of Cobra and Super Cobra attack helicopters chasing Kurdish rebels three miles into Iraqi territory after Sunday’s deadly PKK ambush. According to earlier reports, the Turkish counter-attack left 32 Kurdish rebels dead and eight soldiers fell into PKK hands and are still missing.

While the US continues to urge restraint, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government faces angry demonstrations in Turkish towns demanding an immediate military incursion into Iraq to wipe out the PKK strongholds. Military action was overwhelmingly approved by the parliament in Ankara last week. This month, PKK fighters killed 42 Turkish soldiers and civilians in hit-and-run cross-border raids. Washington has also urged Iraq and its Kurdish leaders to crack down on the PKK hideouts.

Iraqi officials are due in Ankara Thursday to discuss the crisis after Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan held talks with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad Tuesday.

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