Turkey seeks Iran's support against Kurdish rebels

October 23, 2011 - 9:11 PM
Turkey Kurds

Yeter Eroglu holds a photograph of her son, Murat Eroglu, 22, a Turkish soldier killed by Kurdish rebels as she joins thousands of high school students marching in the streets of the Turkish capital, Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011 to denounce the killing of 24 soldiers by Kurdish rebels. About 10,000 elite Turkish soldiers were taking part in a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey and across the border in Iraq on Thursday, making it the nation's largest attack on the insurgents in more than three years, the military said. The offensive began Wednesday after Kurdish rebels carried out raids near the Turkey-Iraq border that killed 24 Turkish soldiers and wounded 18, the insurgents' deadliest one-day attacks against the military since the mid-1990s.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Friday sought Iran's support for its fight against Kurdish rebels, as thousands of troops pressed ahead with an air and ground offensive against militants in northern Iraq for a third day.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Ankara to discuss closer cooperation against the separatist rebels, who also have fought Iran.

Turkey and Iran have in the past staged coordinated attacks against the main rebel base on Qandil Mountain, which sits on the Iraqi-Iranian border.

About 10,000 Turkish troops were pursuing Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey and across the border in Iraq since Wednesday after 24 soldiers were killed by the rebels in the deadliest one-day attacks against the military since the mid-1990s.

It was the nation's largest attack on the insurgents in more than three years. The Turkish military said Friday that the offensive largely concentrated against targets within Turkey but that a few targets were under fire from the ground and air across the Iraqi border.

On Friday, warplanes flew several bombing sorties out of a military base in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, the state-run TRT television said. The airstrikes were targeting rebel camps in Zap and Hakurk areas as well as Qandil, it said.

Iraq on Thursday promised to stop the rebels from using Iraqi territory for future attacks against Turkey. It was not clear if Iraqi Kurdish forces in the north of the country will again assist Turkish troops against the Turkish Kurdish rebels as they did in the early 1990s.

The Kurdish rebel attack has fueled nationalist sentiment in Turkey. Tens of thousands of people, including high school students, took to the streets in protest Thursday, calling for tougher action against the rebels.

Turkey's conflict with the Kurdish rebels has killed tens of thousands of people since the insurgents took up arms to fight for autonomy in the country's Kurdish-dominated southeast in 1984.