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02/29/08

Turkish Military Says Offensive into Northern Iraq is Over

By VOA News

The Turkish military says its troops have pulled out of northern Iraq, after an aggressive assault on Kurdish separatist rebels.

Turkey's military General Staff says troops returned to their bases in Turkey Friday after achieving their goals against the PKK rebels.

The military says it killed 240 PKK rebels and lost 27 of its own soldiers in a week of fighting. The PKK says it killed about 100 Turkish troops and lost five of its fighters.

Turkey has said the air and ground offensive was to stop rebel attacks. But some air strikes destroyed local infrastructure, raising alarm from Kurdish leaders in Iraq about Ankara's larger aims.

Iraq had denounced Turkey for violating its sovereignty and demanded an immediate troop withdrawal. The United States Thursday pressured Turkey to end the offensive.

Turkey's military denies any foreign influence on its decision to withdraw.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in the Turkish capital Thursday and said Turkey should pull its troops out of northern Iraq as soon as possible.

Kurdish separatists have been an ongoing concern for Turkey. Rebels loyal to the Kurdistan Workers Party have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey since 1984.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 02/29/08 ... --



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