Iraq condemns Turkish attacks
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN)
-- Iraq's Kurdish regional government on Monday
dispatched a team to survey the bombarded swath
of northern Iraq where Turkish jets pounded
targets identified as Kurdish separatist lairs
and expressed concern that civilians have been
caught in the crossfire.
Jamal Abdullah, the spokesman of the Kurdish
Regional Government, said the committee, headed
by the government's Ministry of Social Affairs
went to the Qalat Dizah area to assess damage
and meet families displaced by the bombardment.
He confirmed the death of one woman and four
others wounded in the bombing.
"The PKK has given the Turkish government and
military the excuse to carry out such
operations," Abdullah said, referring to the
Kurdistan Workers' Party, the separatist group.
"We ask the Turkish government stand by what it
had pledged at the beginning of this latest
conflict that it has no problem with the people
or the government of the Kurdish region, so why
are civilians in the Kurdish region getting
affected? They have to distinguish between
civilians in struggle areas and PKK elements."
Tensions have been high along the Iraqi-Turkish
border, with Turkey threatening to launch a
full-scale cross-border offensive against
separatist PKK guerrillas.
Early Sunday, Turkish warplanes and long-range
missiles attacked Kurdish rebel positions in the
mountains, Turkish military officials said. The
air attack, which began around 1 a.m. and last
for more than three hours, PKK outposts in the
Qandil mountain, the statement said.
Turkish ground troops launched long-range
missiles at the PKK positions after the air
attack, and all warplanes returned safely to
their bases in Turkey, the statement said.
The KRG's Abdullah said the Turks bombed
different border areas, including regions in
Duhuk and Sulaimaniya provinces, two of the
three Iraqi provinces in region administered by
the KRG. Irbil province is the third.
Abdullah explained the Qalat Dizah where
civilian casualties were sustained is close to
what is known as the "border triangle." That's
where Iran, Turkey and Iraq's Kurdish region
meet and PKK elements are present in that
region. The other area bombed in the Kara
Mountains in Duhuk.
Abdullah, who said the strikes started at 2 a.m.
and lasted two hours, asserted that peaceful
negotiations are the only way to resolve the
conflict and that the United States, Turkey, the
Kurdish government and the Iraqi central
government all must confront the PKK problem.
The strike was condemned by Iraqi government
The presidency of Iraq's Council of
Representatives -- which includes parliamentary
speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani and two deputies --
deplored the bombardment and urged Turkey to use
"dialogue and wisdom in resolving its internal
Their statement said Turkey should respect
Iraq's sovereignty and it called on the U.N.
Security Council to put a stop such military
operations inside Iraq's border.
Hours after the strike was reported, Iraq's
government summoned Turkey's ambassador and told
him that the country's bombing mission in
northern Iraq killed a woman, wounded four other
people, and destroyed a health clinic, a school
Iraq's Foreign Ministry issued a statement
saying that Mohamad Hajj Hmoud, its
undersecretary for legal affairs and
multilateral relations, asked the envoy to tell
the Turkish government "to halt such military
actions that effect innocent and causes panic
which may affect the friendly relations existing
between the two peoples and governments of the
Hmoud gave the ambassador a memorandum "about
the Turkish military aircraft's bombing a group
of Iraqi villages" in northern Iraq. He said
along with the woman's death and the four
injuries and the structural damage, "many
families" were displaced.
A press attache at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara
told CNN on Monday that the United States had
been told about the plans for the strikes and
reiterated that it is Turkey's decision on
whether to carry out such actions. Since early
November, the United States and Turkey have been
sharing intelligence on the PKK, she said.
Abdullah said the KRG has no official
information confirming reports that the United
States OK'd the airstrikes.
"We have no official information on this, but it
is obvious and expected that Turkish planes have
to get prior clearance to enter the Iraqi
Kurdish region's airspace," he said, adding that
President Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan agreed last month to share
intelligence on the matter.
Asked whether the United States provided
"actionable intelligence" for Turkey, Pentagon
spokesman Bryan Whitman, smiled and replied "the
U.S. continues to assist with information to the
Turkish government that will help them deal with
the insurgent situation that they have up
Another official -- on background -- told CNN he
would "not steer anyone away from that
A CNN stringer, who visited the area in
Sulamaniya on Sunday talked to local officials
and witnesses who said bombing occurred about
120 kilometers, or nearly 75 miles, north of
Local officials said about 200 families from the
villages of Sankaser and Jarawa fled the area
following the Turkish air strikes, a school and
10 houses were destroyed. Officials said the
bombing was the most intense inside northern
Iraq in years, with fighter jets deployed.
A pro-PKK Web site reported five guerrillas and
two civilians killed.
The PKK militants have launched actions against
Turkish troops from northern Iraq and have been
fighting the Turkish government forces in
southeastern Turkey, where the violence has been
The Turkish military government received
approval from the parliament in October to take
military action "at any time." There are tens of
thousands of Turkish troops near the border
The United States, the Iraqi government and the
Kurdish Regional Government had pursued
diplomatic efforts over the past two months to
keep Turkey from launching an offensive against
--CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Roya Shadravan
contributed to this report