On the third day of the Turkish military operation in Iraq to crush the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, fighting intensified between both parties. An estimated 113 terrorists and fifteen soldiers have died as troops battled in northern Iraq. The Turkish military warned the local populace not to provide assistance to Kurdish rebels. “What we expect from the local groups is not to protect the terrorists escaping to the sourthern parts of Iraq.” Air raids continue even as ground forces are attempting to crush the Kurdish rebels. Prime Minister Erdogan emphasized to Iraqis there was no intention of trying to take over their land and the object was Kurdish camps.
Ncchirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq lowered his rhetoric and acknowledged Turkey had a right to defend itself against rebel attacks. However, he expressed concern “that the infrastructure of the region ws targeted.” Barzaini called on President Bush to assist efforts to restore peace to the region. The Iraq government also agreed Turkey had a right of self defense, but also was worried the attack might result in further destabilization of a destablized society.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded Turkey cease its invasion of Iraq terriroty and withdraw. The unknown factor in this invasion equation is how militant Shiites will react to an invasion of their nation. What will be Turkey’s reaction if large numbers of the PKK escape to southern Iraq– will they be pursued?