From: Reuters
Published February 26, 2008 07:40 AM

Iraq condemns Turkish incursion, wants troops out

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq on Tuesday condemned Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish guerrillas in the strongest terms so far and demanded an immediate end to the violation of its sovereignty.

The Turkish troops crossed the border last Thursday to root out PKK fighters who have used mountainous northern Iraq as a base for their fight for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey since the 1990s.

"The cabinet expressed its rejection and condemnation for the Turkish military interference, which is considered a violation of Iraq's sovereignty," the Iraqi government said in a statement released by spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

"The cabinet stresses that unilateral military action is not acceptable and threatens good relations between the two neighbors."

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Dabbagh said earlier on Tuesday that a Turkish envoy would meet Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and government leaders including Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Turkish troops, backed by warplanes and artillery, have been fighting Kurdish guerrillas at close quarters as they advance on a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) base.

The Turkish General Staff has said the total PKK death toll in the offensive has risen to 153, and that 17 of its own soldiers have been killed. PKK claims that 81 Turkish troops have been killed could not be verified.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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