Kurdish War: March 11, 2003


: Despite being outgunned, the two Kurdish groups controlling northern Iraq are prepared to counter a feared Turkish incursion into northern Iraq. The Turkish Army has stated that it will enter the region to provide the Iraqi people humanitarian aid, and will not open fire on anyone unless forced to. There are three clearly stated reasons the Turks would get violent: If Kurdish groups attack ethnic Turkmen groups in the area or attempt to establish an independent Kurdish state or if they attempt to occupy the strategically important cities of Mosul and oil-rich Kirkuk. An independent Kurdish state in Iraq could become a base of operations for Turkey's own restive Kurdish separatist movement.

Overnight on March 8-9, there were unconfirmed reports that the Turks had sent tanks into northern Iraq. Local civilians said that under cover of darkness the tanks used "portable metal bridges" to cross the Hezil River dividing Turkey and Iraq. Military officials would not confirm the report. Journalists photographed a Turkish military convoy including "hundreds" of armored vehicles (M60A3 main battle tanks and truly ancient M44T 155mm self-propelled guns) heading to the border, but only 26 kilometers from Zaho (or Zakho), Iraq. 

The Turks also dismissed speculation over the movement of "foreign military equipment", categorically denying that it was part of any cross-border plans and was merely part of a continuing effort to upgrade Turkish military facilities. - Adam Geibel


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