|Turkey declined to give Iraq a timetable for withdrawal of troops fighting PKK on Wednesday, while Turkish army announced that 77 more PKK militants were killed, taking the death toll to 230 since the operation launched last week.
Turkish army said in a statement five more Turkish troops were killed in heavy fighting. Turkey's fatalities now rose to 24. It described the Tuesday night's operation as "the most extensive one since the beginning of the cross-border land operation". Its forces had hit 475 new targets, including shelters, anti-aircraft facilities, training bases and command centers, it added. On Wednesday Turkish warplanes are bombing hide-outs of PKK terrorists in mountainous area in Siladze region to neutralize terrorists and destroy the organization's infrastructure in the region, the official Anatolian Agency reported.
AP reported more than 40 military trucks ferried hundreds of commandos toward the Iraqi border in better weather, a day after heavy snow slowed down Turkeys offensive and F-16 warplanes were seen flying over the border town of Cukurca toward Iraq, while helicopters brought dozens of troops to a base on the outskirts of the town. Some helicopters also headed toward Iraq.
A Turkish diplomatic delegation led by Prime Ministry Chief Adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, met Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad on Wednesday over Turkish military's ground operation in Iraq's north. "Our objective is clear, our mission is clear and there is no timetable until...those terrorist bases are eliminated," Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference after talks in Baghdad with Zebari, adding the incursion will be "limited". "We condemn the terrorists and the PKK, but we also condemn the violations of the sovereignty of Iraq at the same time and we have to be very clear on that," Zebari said. Iraq has demanded an immediate end to the cross-border operation.
Turkey has launched last week a ground operation to curb the PKK's, considered as terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the E.U., ability to attack Turkish targets from hideouts on the Iraqi side of the border last week. It is the first confirmed Turkish military ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Turkey has assured Iraq that the operation would be limited to attacks on PKK. 230 PKK militants were killed, while the total death toll among Turkish troops reached 24 since the incursion began Thursday.
Turkish television said between 3,000 and 10,000 soldiers had entered Iraq, but several Iraqi officials and a military source with U.S.-led coalition forces in Baghdad said only a few hundred troops were involved. Turkish General Staff or the government hasn't officially specified the size of the operation, but they repeat it will continue "until the goals are reached".
CLOSURE OF BASES
The regional Iraqi Kurdish Parliament had an extraordinary session in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Tuesday to discuss Turkey’s ongoing offensive against the PKK in northern Iraq. It demanded the closure of Turkish bases that have been inside Iraqi territory for more than a decade
In a written statement released following the meeting, which had been led by deputy speaker Kemal Kerkuki, the regional parliament urged the Turkish military to withdraw from Iraqi soil immediately, saying that the operation has been harming the Iraqi civilians living near the border between Iraq and Turkey.
"Turkey has had two units on this soil since 1996. We want the government to send these two units away. Let them return to Turkey as soon as possible," Kerkuki added. About 1,200 Turkish soldiers are stationed at a base in Bamerne, which is a remnant from the last major Turkish incursion into northern Iraq in the mid-1990s.