Turkey urges end to N Iraq raids

Wext: Monday, 13.September. @ 00:00:00 CEST


11. Sep. 2004 - Turkey is urging the US to bring its operations in the north Iraq town of Talafar to a swift end, saying ethnic Turkmen have died in air strikes.
US warplanes have been pounding Talafar - which is thought to be a haven for fighters entering Iraq from Syria.

About 20 residents are believed to have been killed on Thursday. American forces have sealed off the town.

US aircraft on Friday also attacked anti-US insurgents in Falluja, west of Baghdad, for a fourth consecutive day.

The US military has been fighting insurgents in Falluja since Monday, when a car bomb there killed seven US marines.

Coalition forces lost control of Falluja in April and agreed to turn it over to a local force to end an earlier uprising by Sunni militants.

The US has also been battling insurgents further north in Talafar - where half of the population consists of ethnic Turkmen, according to Ankara.

Several are reported to have been killed in the recent air strikes, and many more have reportedly been forced to flee.


The bombings have sparked concern in Turkey. The foreign ministry in Ankara said Turkish officials had contacted the American government.

"We have asked the US authorities to stop the offensive in Talafar as soon as possible," the ministry said in a statement.

The Turkish government has also called on the US to avoid using "excessive force".

Reports from Talafar say only medical staff are being allowed through checkpoints controlled by American and Iraqi troops.

Turkey regards northern Iraq as part of its sphere of influence - not only because of its close ethnic and linguistic ties with Iraq's Turkmen but because of the presence of large Kurdish populations on both sides of the border.

Elsewhere, the bodies of three Lebanese nationals were found in Baghdad on Friday, Lebanon's foreign ministry said.

Their identities have not been established and it was not clear why they had been shot dead.

Source: BBC

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