Nov. 14, 2007, 12:06AM
Turkey attacks northern Iraq
Abandoned area targeted in first confirmed assault across the border
By DAMIEN CAVE
New York Times
15 AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ GUNMEN KILLED
U.S. and Iraqi forces killed at least 15 gunmen they said were connected with Al-Qaida in Iraq in a fierce fight south of Baghdad on Tuesday after the militants attacked checkpoints run by local security volunteers.Military officials said as many as 45 fighters, with heavy machine guns, ambushed two checkpoints in Adwaniya, less than 10 miles south of Baghdad. The battle lasted for hours and stopped only when U.S. jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on the area. The military did not say if any of the volunteers were killed.
BAGHDAD — Turkish military aircraft attacked a handful of abandoned villages in northern Iraq on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said, in the first confirmed cross-border assault since tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels began intensifying last month.
Turkish officials also said that Kurdish militants in southeastern Turkey had killed four Turkish soldiers and wounded nine in clashes.
It was unclear whether the confrontations were connected, but they appeared to signal a revival of the fighting between Turkish troops and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a nationalist group of militants in Turkey and Iraq.
The Turkish attack, in and around the remote village of Zahku, killed no one and caused little damage. Officials from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region could not agree on whether helicopters or planes had been used, and they defined the assault as a scouting mission, possibly in search of PKK positions.
The Turkish government has massed tens of thousands of troops along Iraq’s northern border, but so far has refrained from launching a major attack. U.S. officials have been pressing for a diplomatic solution, fearing that an invasion would destabilize Iraq, but no agreement has been reached.
U.S. officials in Baghdad declined to comment on either attack. Leaders in Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan questioned how Turkey could have crossed the border by air without U.S. approval.
“The sky is in the hands of the Americans, so they knew about this attack and they know Turkish planes entered Iraqi territory,” Hussein said.”We hope this will not be repeated.”