First Published: 2003-03-10

Kurds mobilise on Turkish border

KDP official says Kurds ready to counter imminent Turkish incursion, Barzani warns of dire consequences.


Middle East Online

Worried but prepared

ZAKHO, Iraq - Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) forces have been mobilised to counter a possible Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, a KDP official said Monday.

"On Saturday and Sunday we gathered all our forces. The fighters who were on leave have returned" to their bases, Ihssan Amedi said.

"We are worried about the situation and we are prepared."

But he said that for the moment extra troops had not been brought into the region or reservists called up.

The KDP, which shares control of northern Iraq with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), fears Turkey will exploit a US-led war on Iraq to move into the region, and have been worried by reports already of Turkish troop, vehicle and equipment movements on the Turkish side.

Turkey already has several thousand troops in northern Iraq and has said it plans to send in more to keep a check on the Kurdish groups.

Ankara is worried that a war may encourage Iraq's Kurds to break away completely and set up an independent state, offering a rallying point for Turkey's own restive Kurdish population just across the border.

However KDP chief Massoud Barzani warned Saturday of "serious consequences" if Turkish troops moved in and said he hoped the Kurds would not be "betrayed" by Washington.

The Iraqi Kurds fear that Washington may be prepared to allow Turkey more leeway in the region in return for using Turkish bases in the long-threatened attack on Baghdad.


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