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IRAQ: Turkey's fight with Kurdish separatists

October 10, 2008 |  1:51 pm

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A separatist Kurdish leader sounded defiant this week after Turkey's parliament authorized more attacks against his group in northern Iraq. "We are ready and our forces are ready. We are not afraid of them. If they want to attack Iraq's Kurdistan, then the Middle East will turn into a fire ball,” Bozan Takeen, a senior leader from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), warned on Thursday by phone from his hideout in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Takeen, who is based in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Qandil mountains, which border Turkey and Iran, was speaking after Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday extended for one more year Ankara’s right to carry out military raids against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Last fall, Turkey launched a campaign to root out PKK bases in Iraqi Kurdistan after accusing Iraqi officials of not doing enough to crack down on the separatists, who used the safety of Iraq to plot attacks against Turkish troops across the border.

“Turkey is continuously attacking our positions inside Turkey, and pursuing Kurds who belong to the movement,” Takeen said. “We are seeing nothing from Turkey. They want to wipe out Kurds from the map and that won't happen."

Last week, a PKK raid on a Turkish military base claimed the lives of at least 15 soldiers.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against Ankara over their demands for Kurdish autonomy. The conflict has claimed up to 40,000 lives, most of them Kurds.

-- Asso Ahmed in Sulaymaniya

Photo: PKK fighters Credit: Asso Ahmed

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

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