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Turkish PM: Ankara Will Fight Kurdish Rebels "When Needed"

  • VOA News

Turkey's prime minister says Ankara will launch a military operation to fight Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq "when needed" -- and will not ask permission from other countries to do so.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to a flag-waving crowd on Saturday in the western city of Izmit.

The European Union and the United States have urged Ankara to refrain from launching an incursion into Iraq.

Tensions on the Turkish border with northern Iraq have risen since Sunday when Kurdish militants killed 13 Turkish soldiers in an ambush in Turkey's Hakkari province.

On Friday, Turkish warplanes pounded suspected positions of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq.

Turkey's military presence remained heavy in the border area Saturday, after diplomatic talks in Ankara Friday failed to produce a breakthrough.

In other news today, more than one-thousand people took to the streets of the mainly Kurdish city of Sirnak in southeastern Turkey near the Iraqi border to protest the recent surge in PKK rebel violence in the region.

Also, Mr. Erdogan lashed out at European Union countries for not arresting PKK rebels and extraditing them to Turkey. Turkey says the rebels take refuge and raise money in Europe.

The PKK has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. More than 30-thousand people have died in the conflict.

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