US to seek end to Turkey assault

Other News Materials 27 February 2008 16:38 (UTC +04:00)

(BBC) - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said he will ask Turkish leaders to end their military operations in northern Iraq as quickly as possible.

Mr Gates, speaking ahead of a visit to Ankara, said Turkey's assault against Kurdish PKK separatists must not last longer than a week or two.

Separately, a Turkish envoy has arrived in Iraq for talks, Iraqi sources say.

Turkish officials say 77 rebels were killed overnight, bringing the militant toll to 230 since the offensive began.

Twenty-four Turkish soldiers have been killed since the cross-border attack began on Thursday, including five in the latest clashes, the military said. Three pro-government "village guards" were also killed.

The PKK rebels, who want a homeland in south-east Turkey, say they have killed at least 81 Turkish soldiers. Neither report can be independently verified.

Iraq has condemned the incursion into its territory and urged Turkey to withdraw its forces.