As diplomatic efforts intensify, a massive deployment of around 100,000 soldiers backed up by tanks, F-16 fighter jets and helicopter gunships awaits the green light to launch a large-scale attack.
The army has reported some forty Turkish soldiers killed in border fighting with the rebels in the past month. On the streets of Istanbul, many back an offensive, saying Turkey has waited long enough: “It is obvious the Turkish public is losing patience,” said one man. “At this point, there is no need to get permission from the United States. Any delay will harm us.” “They have been trying to find a political solution for years,” said another. “The US is continuously calling on the PKK to declare a ceasefire. Everyone – both the public and the government – should understand these calls don’t work.”
An estimated 3,000 fighters from the outlawed PKK – the Kurdistan Workers Party – are thought to be holed up in northern Iraq from where they have been fighting for an independent state since 1984.