Kurdish President warns Turkey against bombings

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani warned neighbouring Turkey on Monday that he was losing patience with its repeated bombing raids against rebel positions in the north.

Mr. Barzani said his people “cannot accept” the bombing raids and shelling to continue and condemned the attacks which began on December 16. On Sunday, Turkish fighter jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets inside Iraqi territory, in the fourth cross-border operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in one week.

“We cannot accept this situation to continue,” Mr. Barzani told reporters in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah. “We cannot accept our villages to be bombed and our people killed.”

Mr. Barzani refused to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she made a surprise visit to Iraq on December 18, two days after the Turks began their bombings. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd, said Iraq’s Foreign Minister had summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad and lodged a formal complaint, but said he did not want to exacerbate tensions between Iraq and its neighbour.

He was standing next to Mr. Barzani.

The PKK has since 1984 fought to set up an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey. The United States and Iraq have asked Turkey to show restraint in its response to the guerillas, fearing that a large Turkish incursion could destabilise what has been Iraq’s most peaceful area. — AP

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