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Syria Denies Massing Troops

October 5, 1997

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Syria on Saturday denied reports that it is massing troops on its Turkish border, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

``The report is fabricated and baseless,″ a Syrian official told SANA. ``There is no action on the Syrian side.″

On Friday, Turkey’s semi-official Anatolian News Agency said that Syria and Iran had sent troops and armored units to their borders with Turkey and Iraq in response to the Turkish military incursion in northern Iraq.

The German-based Kurdish news agency DEM carried a similar report.

Turkey accuses Syria and Iran of harboring Kurdish separatists who are waging an insurrection in southeastern Turkey. More than 28,000 people have died since the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK began the rebellion in 1984.

In the current incursion, the second offensive this year, Turkey has sent about 16,000 troops into northern Iraq to destroy PKK bases. Turkey says its troops have killed 415 rebels since the operation began two weeks ago.

Arab states routinely protest the incursions as an infringement of Iraqi sovereignty.

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