Turkish build-up fuels anxiety on Iraq border
* Turkey seizes weapons in Syria-bound container from Iran
GORUMLU: Turkey sent more tanks to its border with Iraq on Wednesday in a military build-up that is fuelling US concern about a possible incursion into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels.
A group of 20 tanks loaded on trucks emerged from army barracks in Mardin near Syria and headed towards the Iraqi border in southeast Turkey, already the scene of a major army offensive against rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Speculation about an imminent incursion into Iraq has grown since Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last week he saw eye to eye with the army over possible military action, despite unease in the United States, Turkey’s NATO ally, about such a move. There was also anxiety along the border in southeast Turkey, where many Kurdish villagers form part of a state-backed militia which fights alongside the army against the PKK rebels.
“We support the operations in the mountains here because the PKK made us suffer a lot. I lost 10 people from my family,” said Nadir Karadeniz, an official in the village of Gorumlu, located near a military base just a few kilometres from the border.
But there was reluctance to take the fight into the Iraqi mountains, where thousands of PKK fighters are based, given the strong opposition from Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani - a respected figure among Turkey’s own Kurds.
Weapons seized: Turkish authorities seized weapons hidden among construction materials on a Syria-bound train from Iran after Kurdish guerrillas bombed and derailed the train, a prosecutor said Wednesday. The cargo was discovered when authorities checked containers on the train, which was attacked by separatist Kurdish guerrillas on May 25 near the town of Genc in southeastern Bingol province, Prosecutor Ismail Sari told reporters Wednesday. agencies