The US is coming under increasing pressure to act as tensions continue to rise on the border between Turkey and northern Iraq. Eyewitnesses have reported heavy shelling of Kurdish rebel positions after an ambush on Sunday left 12 Turkish soldiers dead and eight missing.
The PKK rebels want more Kurdish autonomy and have around 3,000 fighters stationed in the hills of northern Iraq.
Ankara has called on Washington to drive the PKK from its stronghold, but the response from the White House so far has been measured: “I think we are all unified – the Turks, the United States, the Iraqi government – in asking the PKK, not asking but addressing the situation with the PKK, to stop these attacks on the Turkish people and the Turkish Army.”
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, claimed the PKK were about to announce a ceasefire and withdraw their fighters from the area. However, the news has not as yet been confirmed.
Sunday’s ambush has fuelled public anger in Turkey, with daily demonstrations being held across the country. Several thousand turned out in Ankara, to press for military intervention in northern Iraq. But the government says it will exhaust diplomatic channels before launching any strike.