TURKEY was very close to an invasion of northern Iraq yesterday after a number of Turkish troops were killed and wounded in PKK attacks.
Kurdistan Workers’ Party fighters (PKK) yesterday claimed to have killed 16 Turkish soldiers and wounded 17 in an ambush in the mountainous southeast of Turkey along its border with Iraq.
Turkey responded by shelling 63 targets it claimed were PKK positions in northern Iraq.
PKK fighters said they had kidnapped Turkish soldiers and Turkey confirmed that ten soldiers were missing in action after the early morning attack in the mountains near the village of Daglica, close to the Iraqi border in Hakkari province.
The Turkish army sent additional troops to the region following the attack, in which PKK fighters ambushed a infantry platoon on patrol.
Earlier, the Turkish military said that twenty-three PKK fighters were killed in ‘continuing’ clashes after twelve of its troops were killed in a bomb attack on a minibus crossing a bridge near the town of Yuksekova.
Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan said that ‘our anger, our hatred is great’ but claimed that the Turkish response was ‘calm, far from agitation and based on common sense’.
A PKK spokesman said it had launched its attacks in response to Turkish forces crossing into Iraq overnight.
On Saturday, Turkish premier Erdogan said he expected the United States and Iraq to take action against the PKK but Turkey would take its own measures if it saw no results.
A Turkish invasion of northern Iraq will send oil prices over the $100 a barrel level as well as bringing the entire Middle East to the brink of war.
Meanwhile, in Iraq yesterday, the US claimed to have killed forty-nine Iraqi ‘criminals’ in fierce clashes during three separate raids on Baghdad’s Sadr City.
Puppet Iraqi police said that women and children were among those killed in the two raids.
Police said the US raids came after a US vehicle was targeted by a roadside bomb.
Iraqi police and hospital officials also said that US helicopters and fighter jets bombed buildings during the 5am raid in the poor, working class district, a stronghold of radical Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr.
The US military said its troops had returned fire after coming under sustained attack from automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades from nearby buildings as they began to raid a series of buildings in the district.
Ground forces then called in air strikes.