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U.S. Says Forces Coordinate With Iraq, Turkey On Rebel Attacks

BAGHDAD -- A senior U.S. military official says U.S. forces jointly patrol with the Iraqi Army and Kurdish regional government forces in disputed areas and coordinate with Iraq and Turkey about crossborder attacks by Kurdish rebels, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.
Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, told RFE/RL on September 1 that "our governments -- the Iraqi government, the Turkish government, and the U.S. government -- have been in coordination to deal specifically with what they see as a threat to the people of Iraq and the people of Turkey...[but] there is no [known] coordination from the Iranian government with Iraq in this regard."
Turkish forces have made several bombing raids inside Iraq in recent weeks to attack Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) rebels who they say are carrying out terrorist attacks in Turkey. The PKK -- which is considered a terrorist organization by many countries -- is seeking to establish an autonomous Kurdish state.
Turkish officials claim they have killed scores of PKK fighters in Iraq in recent weeks. Baghdad has condemned the Turkish strikes. Iranian forces have also recently bombed villages in Iraq.
Hussein al-Safi, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's National Alliance parliamentary bloc, told RFE/RL that "the United States has a legal obligation under existing agreements to ensure Iraq's stability, sovereignty, and noninterference by other states in its affairs."
Muhammad al-Khalidi, a member of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyah parliamentary bloc, said that "the issues Iraq has with its neighbors -- including Turkey, Iran, and Kuwait -- should be resolved by diplomatic means with the U.S. contribution as a partner bound by a strategic agreement with Iraq."
Burhan Shawi, a member of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc, said that "while condemning the Turkish and Iranian bombing of Iraqi border villages, it should be pointed out that the Iraqi forces are still not ready to protect the country's borders, [a process that] demands further training and better hardware."
On the role played by U.S. forces in ethnically mixed, disputed areas, Buchanan said: "There is an ongoing discussion between the U.S. government, the Iraqi government, and the regional government of Kurdistan that deals with the security aspects in the Diyala, [Kirkuk], and Ninewa provinces. But we will have no authority to continue to have forces patrolling these areas beyond the end of the year unless there is an agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments that provides for that."
Muhammad Sayhud, a National Alliance member, said that "keeping U.S. forces in the disputed areas or any other part of Iraq, for that matter, beyond 2011 is out of the question as the Iraqi forces have proved their capability since 2008 when they took over responsibility for internal security."

Khalidi of Al-Iraqiyah said that "the only viable solution in the disputed areas is to have a local force proportionally representing the respective area's communities to be in charge of security in those regions."
But Shawi of the Kurdish bloc said that "the Iraqi forces alone cannot ensure security in the disputed areas and the central government in Baghdad should work with the KRG by forming a joint force to police these areas."