Turkey "may act with Iran against PKK in Iraq"

Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:44am EDT
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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that Turkey could launch a joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants' main base in northern Iraq, according to reports in Turkish newspapers on Friday.

In August, Turkey carried out a series of air and artillery strikes against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels in northern Iraq and the interior minister said this week a ground operation could be launched any time against the guerrillas there, depending on the result of talks with Iraq.

The military action was triggered by an increase in PKK attacks in southeast Turkey in which dozens of security personnel were killed.

Speaking to reporters while traveling to Tunisia on a north African tour, Erdogan said the minister's comment had been a slip of the tongue that had been corrected, and that there would be no forewarning of any such operation.

"Things like this are not said, they are done," the Hurriyet daily quoted the prime minister as saying. The same comments were reported by other newspapers.

"The chief of the general staff has completed assessments in the region (southeast Turkey) together with force commanders," he said.

There was no immediate official comment from Iraq.

Speculation about a ground offensive was fueled when Erdogan met military chiefs before his trip to north Africa.

Erdogan was also asked in Tunisia about relations with Iran and cooperation against the PKK and he said: "It's going well. We may act together at Qandil."   Continued...

<p>Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference with Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf at the Prime Minister's building in Cairo September 13, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany</p>