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Iraq warns Turkey against any military incursions

Written by: Staff
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ATHENS, July 6 (Reuters) Iraq today warned neighbouring Turkey to refrain from any military incursions into its northern border region to fight Kurdish guerrillas based there.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, on a visit to Athens, noted no Turkish incursions had taken place so far.

''But if this does happen in the future, then our position will be different,'' he said after meeting Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyanni. ''Iraq will demand its borders are not violated and that no country is involved in its domestic matters.'' Ankara has kept around 1,500 special forces in northern Iraq since the 1990s to prevent infiltration into southeast Turkey by PKK Kurdish guerrillas.

Earlier this year, Ankara reinforced its southeast border region with 40,000 troops, adding to 220,000 already there.

Turkey has long urged US and Iraqi troops in northern Iraq to crack down on the Kurdish rebels who use their mountain hideouts as a springboard to attack forces across the border.

Ankara blames the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the deaths of at least 30,000 people since the group launched an armed campaign for a separate Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

''All countries know that sovereignty must be respected and there should be no intervention in domestic issues,'' Zebari said. ''There is no doubt the developments in Iraq are very critical for the whole region.

REUTERS SB BD1803

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