General Yasar Buyukanit speaking on April 12 (epa)
April 13, 2007 -- Turkey's top general has called for military operations in northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels hiding there.
But Yasar Buyukanit, the head of the Turkish military's General Staff, said a political decision was needed before any such cross-border operation could be made.
"Do we need to have an operation into northern Iraq? There are two aspects to this issue," he said. "First, from a military point of view, an operation in northern Iraq must be made. Will there be any benefits? Yes there will be. The second aspect is political. To make an operation beyond our borders, there must be a political decision."
Turkey has repeatedly urged the Iraqi government and U.S. forces in Iraq to crack down on thousands of rebels from the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who use northern Iraq to launch attacks inside Turkey.
The U.S. State Department called on Turkey to refrain from launching cross-border raids and called on Baghdad and Ankara to work together to resolve the matter.
Spokesman Sean McCormack said the Ankara government faces a "real threat" from Kurdish militants and that the situation should be dealt with. But, he said, instead of crossing into Iraq, Baghdad and Ankara should cooperate.