Special report: Turkey's incursion into
An undated handout picture provided by
the Turkish Chief of General Staff army headquarters on Feb. 27, 2008,
shows Turkish soldiers as they take a break during an operation against
Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Turkish envoy to Baghdad
said on Wednesday that his country will not set a timetable for the withdrawal
of its troops fighting PKK fighters in northern Iraq.
"Our mission in northern Iraq is clear and there will
be no timetable for our troops to withdraw until those terrorist bases are
eliminated," the Turkish envoy, Ahmet Davutoglu, told a news conference in
Baghdad after talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd.
Davutoglu, chief foreign policy adviser to Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was due to meet Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani, a Kurd, and U.S. top military commander in Iraq General David
The Turkish envoy's visit to Baghdad came a day after
the Iraqi government condemned the Turkish incursion in Iraq's Kurdistan region
and demanded an immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops from northern Iraq.
In another development, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates said that the Turkish operations should be limited to a week or two.
"It is very important that the Turks make this
operation as short as possible. I measure quick in terms of days, a week or
two," Gates told reporters in New Delhi before leaving for scheduled visit to
Ankara to meet Turkish officials on Thursday.
Turkey said on last Friday that 10,000 of its troops
were taking part in the cross-border offensive, which follows periodic air raids
on suspected hideouts of the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) fighters in
The PKK, listed by the United States and Turkey as a
terrorist group, took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an
ethnic homeland in the southeast of the country. More than 30,000 people have
been killed in the over-two-decade conflict.
The Turkish military was authorized last November to
enter into northern Iraq to chase PKK members. But such a move has been rare as
the U.S. - Turkey's major ally - is worried that a major incursion would
destabilize the Kurdish region, which has been spared of the violence in Iraq
since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.