Turkey withdraws some soldiers from northern Iraq - reports (video)

Politics Materials 29 February 2008 13:18 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Turkey has begun to withdraw some of its soldiers from its campaign against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, but the overall offensive was continuing, reports said Friday.

The news broadcaster CNN-Turk, citing US officials, said some soldiers had been withdrawn and returned to Turkey. But Turkish military sources said special units remained operating in northern Iraq.

The online edition of the daily Hurriyet also reported on a Turkish troop withdrawal. But at the same time Kurdish sources in Iraq were cited as denying that there had been an end to the Turkish operation, which was launched on the night of February 21. They said operations were continuing in three regions.

Turkish media reports said the army had captured an important camp of the banned Kurdish Workers Party PKK in the Zap valley.

The broadcaster al-Arabiya, citing Kurdish fighters, said Turkish soldiers had withdrawn from the Zap river region after having laid mines.

The developments come a day after US Defence Secretary Robert Gates held talks with Turkish leaders and urged a quick end to the Turkish military operation in northern Iraq. President George W Bush also made the call in Washington at a press conference Thursday.

Turkey had launched "Operation Gunes" on the night of February 21, with some 10,000 soldiers sent across the border to seek out PKK rebels and their camps.

According to a statement released by the Turkish military on Wednesday, 230 PKK fighters, 24 Turkish soldiers and three state- employed village guards had been killed in the operation.