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Iraq Condemns Turkish ‘Aggression’

August 21, 2000

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq threatened Monday to retaliate for what it claimed were raids by Turkish warplanes that killed 40 people in Iraqi villages last week, the official Iraqi News Agency reported Monday.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Turkey raided several villages near the borders of Iran and Turkey Aug. 15 and that dozens more were injured, according to the news agency.

There was no comment available Monday from Turkey. However, on Friday the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that an operation against Kurdish rebels had taken place on Aug. 15 and that all the necessary precautions had been taken to ensure that no civilians were harmed.

Turkey, the statement added, was investigating the allegations about the deaths of civilians.

``Iraq condemns the aggression and violations carried out by Turkish forces and reserves the right to determine the time and means to respond to this act of aggression,″ the Iraqi news agency quoted an unidentified foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

Turkish forces have in the past crossed into Iraq in pursuit of ethnic Kurdish guerrillas fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey. The guerrillas use Iraqi territory for hit-and-run operations against Turkish forces, taking advantage of the lack of effective control by Iraq’s government over the northern areas.

Iraq’s Kurdish north has been under the control of two warring factions _ the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. American and British warplanes also have enforced a no-fly zone over the area since the Iraqi army suppressed a Kurdish revolt soon after the 1991 Gulf War.

An estimated 20 million Kurds live in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

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