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Turkey PM considering Iraq incursion

Turkey PM considering Iraq incursion
The Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan make a statement to the news media during meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in the Oval Office at the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington. The leaders discussed recent military conflicts between Turkey and members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iraq that threaten the stability of the region. (UPI Photo/Chip Somodevilla/POOL) | License Photo

ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is considering launching a ground incursion into northern Iraq to target Kurdish separatists.

Erdogan made the comments Tuesday at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party's parliamentary group, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported. The prime minister, it said, has pledged to step up Turkey's campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan People's Party, or PKK, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.

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PKK rebels Friday launched their deadliest attack against the Turkish military in a year, in which 17 soldiers were killed and 20 others injured along the country's remote and mountainous border with Iraq. On Tuesday, Turkish fighter jets attacked 21 PKK positions in Iraq's Avasin Baysan region, the newspaper said.

"The sole target of a possible cross-border operation will be the terrorist organization," Erdogan told party members, characterizing such a move as self-defense and adding that Iraqi civilians and Iraq's territorial integrity would not be harmed.

Hurriyet said Turkey executed a similar eight-day cross-border operation in February and succeeded in killing hundreds of PKK rebels.

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