6 March 2008 /TODAY'S ZAMAN
The Turkish military leadership has rejected a request by Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region to shut down several military bases in northern Iraq, the Turkish daily Vatan reported yesterday, citing a statement by the Turkish General Staff.
Last week, while Turkey's recent eight-day ground operation inside Iraq to destroy the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targets there was still going on, the regional Iraqi Kurdish Parliament had an extraordinary session in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil concerning the operation. Following the session, Deputy Speaker Kemal Kerkuki reiterated an earlier allegation, saying that about 350 Turkish soldiers rolled out of their barracks inside Iraq at Bamerne, west of Amadiyah, in 13 tanks to join their fellow soldiers coming from across the border and that they were prevented from doing so by local residents of the area.
"Turkey has had two units on this soil since 1996. We want the government to send these two units away. Let them return to Turkey as soon as possible," Kerkuki said then. About 1,200 Turkish soldiers are stationed at a base in Bamerne, which is a remnant from the last major Turkish incursion into northern Iraq in the mid-1990s. The Turkish army also has bases in Batufa, Qanimasi and Dilmentepe.