NEWS: Turkish ground attack follows air attack

Turkish soldiers cross border into northern Iraq

The Turkish army sent soldiers about three kilometres into northern Iraq in an overnight operation on Tuesday, Kurdish officials said. A Turkish official said the troops were still in Iraq by midmorning.

The troops crossed into an area near the border with Iran, about 120 kilometres north of the city of Irbil, said Jabar Yawar, a spokesman for Kurdistan’s Peshmerga security forces.

About 300 Turkish troops crossed the border at 3 a.m., said Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the regional Kurdistan government. He said the region was a deserted mountainous frontier area. [complete article]

U.S. military not told of Turkey bomb plan

U. S. military commanders in Iraq didn’t know Turkey was sending warplanes to bomb in northern Iraq until the planes had already crossed the border, The Associated Press has learned.

Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. And a “coordination center” has been set up in Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information, two officials said Tuesday.

But commanders and diplomats in Baghdad were angered when they were told of Sunday’s attack after it was already under way, defense and diplomatic officials said in Washington and Baghdad. [complete article]

Iraq Kurdish leader snubs Rice over Turkey raid

The president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region refused to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday because of Washington’s tolerance of Turkish military attacks, his prime minister said.

Rice’s unannounced visit to Iraq was overshadowed by an incursion by about 300 Turkish soldiers into the Kurdish province of Dahuk in the north of the country.

The operation was condemned by the Iraqi Kurdish government of President Masoud Barzani, which has also criticized U.S. tolerance of Turkish previous air and artillery strikes targeting separatists based in northern Iraq. [complete article]

U.S. helps Turkey hit rebel Kurds in Iraq

The United States is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday, according to Pentagon officials.

U.S. military personnel have set up a center for sharing intelligence in Ankara, the Turkish capital, providing imagery and other immediate information gathered from U.S. aircraft and unmanned drones flying over the separatists’ mountain redoubts, the officials said. A senior administration official said the goal of the U.S. program is to identify the movements and activities of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting to create an autonomous enclave in Turkey.

The United States is “essentially handing them their targets,” one U.S. military official said. The Turkish military then decides whether to act on the information and notifies the United States, the official said. [complete article]

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