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U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq
Turkey, according to U.S. officials, was eager to have the information. "They wanted to go after them," a U.S. military official said. The intelligence center was set up in Ankara with the help of U.S. military personnel. In addition, scarce U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles were diverted from other parts of Iraq to search for PKK locations in the mountainous area along Iraq's border with Turkey.
Senior Pentagon officials, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq; Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. John Craddock, head of the U.S. European Command, began talks last month with the Turkish military on joint counterinsurgency efforts against the PKK that would incorporate diplomatic, political and financial measures.
The United States is also trying to establish a regional dialogue among Turkey, Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdish regional government.
U.S. officials said Kurdish regional forces in northern Iraq recently closed PKK offices and set up roadblocks in an attempt to cut off supplies to rebel camps.
The high-level talks are a response to a pledge made by President Bush to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov. 5 to address a rash of cross-border incursions into Turkey. Ankara deployed up to 100,000 troops along Turkey's border with Iraq after more than 40 soldiers and civilians were killed in PKK attacks this fall.
Erdogan told reporters before a trip to the United States last month that Turkey has "run out of patience with the terrorist attacks being staged from northern Iraq" and said relations between the United States and Turkey were "undergoing a serious test."
But a senior U.S. administration official said the "deal on intelligence" and military visits had created "a sense that we're in a different phase of this relationship. The Turks want to see how this works."
Special correspondent Zaid Sabah in Baghdad contributed to this report.