The Turkish government will ask parliament to extend by one year its mandate to order military strikes against separatist Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, the deputy prime minister said Wednesday.
"We have decided to ask the parliament again for a one-year authorization" when lawmakers return from summer recess on October 1, Cemil Cicek, who is also the government spokesman, told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
"I believe the motion will be debated within the first few days of parliament reopening," he said without giving a date.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) dominates the 550-seat parliament and is likely to face no difficulty in securing approval for the extension.
The government won a one-year parliamentary authorization on October 17 last year for cross-border raids against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels who have led a 24-year-long bloody campaign against Ankara.
Since last October, the army has carried out several air strikes and a week-long ground incursion against rebel targets in northern Iraq, using intelligence passed on by Turkey’s close ally, the United States.
The army has described the raids as successful and said they inflicted massive damage and casualties on PKK militants.
Turkey’s new army chief, who was sworn in last month, said in remarks published in newspapers on Wednesday, that Turkey faced a good opportunity to deal a decisive blow to the PKK.
"The PKK is heading towards a breaking point. What is important is how we will make use of it…. The organization has been in this situation before, but we made mistakes," General Ilker Basbug said.
The PKK — considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union — has been fighting for a separate state in the mainly Kurdish southeast and east of Turkey since 1984.
According to figures provided by Basbug, the conflict has claimed some 44,000 lives, including 32,000 PKK rebels, 5,560 civilians and 6,482 members of Turkish security forces.
Turkey claims that thousands of PKK militants are holed up in rear bases in northern Iraq from where they stage cross-border attacks on Turkish targets.

(c)2008 AFP

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