Turkey Gives No Timetable on Iraq Withdrawal

US, Iraq want quick end to incursion aimed at Kurd rebels
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2008 1:35 PM CST
Turkey Gives No Timetable on Iraq Withdrawal
In this photo released by the Turkish Military on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, Turkish commandos rest during an operation against Kurdish rebels at an undisclosed location on the Turkish-Iraqi border, southeastern Turkey. Turkish troops have killed 77 Kurdish rebels in night-long clashes in northern Iraq,...   (Associated Press)

Despite mounting casualties and outside pressure, Turkey said today it would not give a timetable on pulling back troops from an offensive against Kurdish rebels in Iraq, Reuters reports. Turkish soldiers have killed 230 PKK guerillas since the conflict began, and lost 24 of their own. Iraqi and US officials say the incursion could destabilize security in the country as a whole.

Robert Gates said Turkey should limit the length of its Iraqi incursion to days, not months, and “be mindful of Iraqi sovereignty.” The US defense secretary will visit Ankara tomorrow, but may face resistance: Turkey’s foreign minister described “continuing operations” in northern Iraq as “not a violation of Iraqi sovereignty” but “restoration … over those geographic areas where terrorists are functioning." (Read more Turkey stories.)

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