Army chief: 'I will remove my uniform if US influence proved'

The head of Turkey's military General Staff said on Monday further land operations against PKK in N Iraq could be launched if necessary.

Army chief: 'I will remove my uniform if US influence proved'
The head of Turkey's military General Staff said on Monday further land operations against PKK militants in northern Iraq could be launched if necessary.

"As needed, land operations will continue after this," General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters in a briefing.

"We gave them (the PKK) a lesson and we have more lessons to give," he said.

Turkey pulled its troops out of northern Iraq on Friday, ending a major week-long ground offensive against the PKK militants.

Some Turkish media have suggested the military pulled out of Iraq earlier than planned because of heavy pressure from the United States, Turkey's NATO ally, but Buyukanit denied the claims.

"If anybody can prove U.S. influence (on the decision to pull back), I will remove my uniform," said Buyukanit.

The United States has been providing military intelligence to Turkey on PKK movements in northern Iraq, but U.S. President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates both urged Ankara last Thursday to keep the ground offensive short.

Buyukanit said the military had achieved its goals in the campaign, killing at least 240 of around 300 militants they had targeted in the Zap valley.

He also denied claims that the army had given up on plans to take Qandil mountain, deeper into Iraq, because of U.S. pressure.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants have been using the remote, mountainous northern Iraq as a base from which to stage attacks on Turkish territory.

Turkey has repeatedly urged the Iraqi authorities to crack down on the militants.


Reuters
Last Mod: 03 Mart 2008, 17:35
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