Turkey to send forces into North Iraq

Turkey will send extra troops in northern Iraq only in coordination with the US, Turkish army chief Hilmi Ozkok said on Wednesday.
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Updated on Mar 26, 2003 02:50 PM IST
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PTI | By Agence France-Presse, Diyarbakir (turkey)

Turkey will send extra troops into northern Iraq only in coordination with the United States, Turkish army chief Hilmi Ozkok said on Wednesday.

"Since our strategic partner the United States is still fighting in the region our action will be coordinated with the United States and other necessary steps will be taken to prevent misunderstandings," Ozkok told reporters.

The general hinted that Turkey had no immediate plans to send extra forces to the region, where it already has several thousand soldiers, based there since 1997, to carry out counter-insurgency operations.

"An attack on those forces... a possible large refugee exodus, instability that may emerge due to fighting between local armed forces or an attack by one of them on the civilian population are our most important security concerns," Ozkok said.

"I think a decision can be taken for the Turkish armed forces to send extra soldiers into northern Iraq if such a threat or similar threats emerge and it becomes obvious that our forces there are unable to deal with them," he added.

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