Turkey's patience running out after rebel attack

Other News Materials 26 October 2007 02:41

(Reuters) - President Abdullah Gul warned Kurdish rebels on Thursday that Turkey's patience was running out after Turkish forces said they had repelled a guerrilla attack near the Iraqi border.

Ankara has massed up to 100,000 troops along the mountainous border before a possible cross-border operation to crush about 3,000 rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who launch attacks into Turkey from northern Iraq.

Iraqi, Turkish and U.S. diplomats have stepped up efforts to avert a large-scale Turkish incursion but Gul said NATO-member Turkey would not tolerate any more PKK attacks from Iraq.

"We are totally determined to take all necessary steps to end this threat ... Iraq should not be a source of threat for its neighbours," Gul told an economic conference in Ankara.

The United States is keen to avert a large-scale Turkish offensive in northern Iraq, fearing it would destabilise not only the most peaceful part of that country but potentially also the region as a whole.

"(The United States) may not want us to carry out a cross-border operation. But it is we who will decide whether to do one or not," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told reporters during a visit to Romania.

Ankara has said it may impose economic sanctions on Iraq and the speaker of Iraq's parliament, Mahmoud Mashhadani, threatened on Thursday that Iraq would respond to any sanctions by cutting the oil supply to Turkey, state news agency Anatolian reported.

A pipeline from Iraq's Kirkuk oilfield to Turkey's Ceyhan port has pumped about 300,000 barrels per day since late August.