As Turkish troops mass on its northern border, Iraq has promised to close the offices of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party and limit its activities on Iraqi soil. The group – known as the PKK – has been blamed for a series of border clashes with Turkey which have claimed dozens of lives. PKK rebels claim to have captured several soldiers during an ambush on Sunday that left 12 dead. The Turkish Army has confirmed eight personnel are missing.
Ankara is under huge domestic pressure to crush the rebels, but the international community is urging caution, fearing greater instability in Iraq. Speaking during a visit to London, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said any military action would be carefully considered: “Any military strike would only target the rebels,” he said.
“We have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people who have suffered in the past. We have no desire whatsoever to take over Iraqi territory.”
The anger in Turkey is palpable. Tens of thousands again took to the streets across the country during the funerals of the troops who were killed in Sunday’s raid.
They are also angry that the Kurdish regional government appears to have done nothing to rein in the rebels. In the southern city of Osmaniye the crowd paraded an effigy of the Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, before chanting as it was set alight.