Turkish army kills 35 Kurdish insurgents near Iraq border

Turkey Materials 31 October 2007 14:27

( RIA Novosti ) - The Turkish Army has killed 35 Kurdish militants in an ongoing operation in the southeast of the country near the Iraqi border, local media said Wednesday.

Turkey's parliament sanctioned military cross-border operations against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), based in northern Iraq, following an earlier government request and despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad. Turkey has now amassed up to 150,000 troops in anticipation of a major cross-border military operation against around 3,500 PKK insurgents based in Iraq.

"When a group of almost 50 terrorists was discovered in the area in the evening of October 28, an operation was launched with the support of four Cobra attack helicopters, as a result of which 35 militants were killed," the Sabah newspaper said citing military sources.

Sabah's report has yet to be officially confirmed.

An operation against PKK insurgents is also ongoing in the southeastern province of Sirnak, where about 100 separatists are reportedly based.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey expects urgent action from the United States to destroy Kurdish insurgent bases in north Iraq.

"We expect the U.S. to take urgent, concrete steps against terrorist bases," the premier told Turkey's parliament.

Erdogan is set to meet with U.S. President George Bush in Washington on November 5 to discuss the issue.

" Turkey's patience has run out. We will discuss with the United States countries that are harboring terrorists, as well as measures that are necessary to fight terrorism," Erdogan said.

The Turkish army said on Monday it had captured 100 Kurdish rebels near the border. Monday's fighting coincided with the 84th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, which the country marked with large-scale military parades.

A total of three Turkish troops have died in clashes with insurgents on the border since Monday morning. A fourth was killed by a mine in the Tunceli Province, in west-central Turkey.

The PKK, labeled by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives, including 80 Kurdish militants killed in special operations conducted by the Turkish army near the border with Iraq last week.