Turkey to extend mandate for ground incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan

ANKARA, Bloomberg, AFP, AP, dpa – 25.9.2012 –  Turkey’s Cabinet sought approval from parliament to extend a mandate for ground troops to be sent into Iraq to fight Kurdish PKK militants, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.Parliament will reconvene from its summer holiday on Oct. 1 and is expected to give priority to a one-year extension of the mandate, for cross-border attacks, which expires on Oct. 17, Arinc told reporters in Ankara late yesterday.

Militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, who are based in Turkey-northern Iraq border regions have stepped up their attacks in recent months. Turkish forces withdrew from semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in ‘northern Iraq’ on February 29, 2008 only a day after US President George W. Bush urged Ankara to quickly wrap up the incursion and Defense Secretary Robert Gates personally put pressure on Turkish leaders during a visit to Ankara. Turkish troops are engaged in a major offensive to clear pockets of militants in the mountainous southeast before winter sets in, Hurriyet newspaper said Monday.