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Iraqi Kurdish Leaders Warn Turkey About Incursion

  • VOA News

The leadership of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq has warned Turkey not to target civilians during its military operations in Iraq, saying there will be large-scale resistance if civilians are harmed.

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, said Saturday his security forces would not interfere in Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebels inside Iraq. But Mr. Barzani warned against targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.

Since Thursday, when Turkey launched its military incursion into Iraq, there have been no reports of civilian casualties. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Saturday the Turkish military has destroyed five bridges near the border between the two countries.

Turkey's military says seven of its soldiers and at least 79 Kurdish rebels have been killed during the operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

The PKK claims it has killed 20 Turkish soldiers. But neither side's figures can be confirmed because the fighting is taking place in a sparsely populated mountain region.

Turkey says the incursion is aimed at protecting Turkish people from attacks carried out by rebels based in Iraq. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his forces will withdraw once Turkey's military has destroyed the PKK's logistical and psychological support.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. That violence has killed more than 30-thousand people.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union classify the PKK as a terrorist group.
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