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Subject Turkey massing troops along Kurdish areas of Iraq border
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LONDON — Turkey was said to have massed troops along its southern border with Iraq.


Kurdish opposition sources said thousands of Turkish troops have been gathering in positions near the Iraqi border. They said the Turkish military formation was taking place in the Kurdish areas of southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish troops deployed near the Iraqi border were identified as units of two commando brigades, Bolu and Kayseri. The sources said the commando forces were seen in the Cukurca district of Hakkari.

The sources said more than 10,000 troops have been deployed in Cukurca.

They said information on the troop concentrations was relayed by the Turkish Gendarmerie Command to forces in the district.

"It was learned that these preparations are being carried out within the framework of an operation against south Kurdistan [northern Iraq]," the Kurdish television Roj, based in Copenhagen, reported on April 26.

On May 1, the Kurdish Workers Party claimed responsibility for an explosion in the western Turkish resort town of Kusdasi in which a police officer was killed. The Kurdish Liberation Hawks, a PKK wing, saying it also planted bombs in Istanbul, warned Westerners to leave Turkey.

Ankara has long warned that it would not tolerate the presence of the PKK in northern Iraq. About 5,000 PKK fighters were said to have been operating along the northern border and operatives were sent to Turkey for insurgency attacks.

´´It is apparent that the issue of security has become a matter of concern for Iraq´s neighbors," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said.

"More and more terrorist activities are being carried out by a narrower group."

Roj said many of the Kurds in the area have sold their livestock and left the Cukurca district. The television said residents in Cukurca have demanded the withdrawal of military units.

The television said the Bolu Commando Brigade, deployed in the Lice district of Diyarbakir, has been preparing to launch attacks in northern Iraq. Roj cited such Iraqi targets as Akdag, Andok, Dorse, Saggoze and Senyayla regions.

Kurdish sources said the Turkish military build-up could be connected to setbacks for ethnic Turks in northern Iraq. The sources said Turkmen groups have been racked by discord and defections that have divided the pro-Ankara movement.

The PKK presence in northern Iraq was a major issue on the agenda of a meeting by foreign ministers of Iraq and its neighbors in Istanbul on Monday. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the government in Baghdad was not ready to confront the Kurdish insurgents.

"Iraq will need more time before it can deal with the presence of militants of the terrorist PKK taking shelter in the north of the country," Zebari said. "It´s not only the PKK. There are militants from Iranian dissident groups. These were groups that Saddam Hussein welcomed."
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