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Cablegate: Turkey: Tgs Announces Withdrawal of Ground Troops

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OO RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000403

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EUR/SE FOR HUNT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS PREL PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: TGS ANNOUNCES WITHDRAWAL OF GROUND TROOPS
FROM NORTHERN IRAQ


The Turkish General Staff (TGS) announced the withdrawal of
its ground troops from northern Iraq, which began February
29, in a statement released on February 29. The statement
stressed that the
troops are being withdrawn because their mission has been
completed, not because of external pressure. Informal
Embassy translation of the TGS statement follows.

Begin Text:

Turkish Armed Forces launched an air-supported land operation
(with the participation of Land Forces Command and Jandarma
General Command) against the PKK/KONGRA-Gel terrorist
organization into northern Iraq at 1900 on February 21, 2008
- the most convenient time by taking issues such as weather
conditions and daylight into consideration.

Carrying out the operation in a season with adverse weather
conditions was especially preferable for suppressing the
terrorists' capabilities and in order to benefit from the
capability of the Turkish Armed Forces which can carry out
its duty under any condition. Furthermore, due to the
conditions, terrorists have not been able to use explosives
due to the deep snow, and consequently they could not cause
any casualties.

The operation aimed at neutralization of terrorists in the
region and destruction of the organization's physical
infrastructure. The Zap region was targeted as the main base
of the organization from a geographical point of view.

The operation was commanded by the 2nd Army Command in Sirnak
and was implemented by the Jandarma Public Peace Corps
Command in Cukurca.

Air support to the operation was provided by the 2nd Air
Force Command, while the army aviation and artillery support
were provided by Land Forces based close to the border.
Terrorist positions located in the deep parts and their
shelters were struck by air forces and air support land
vehicles.

Our units have successfully carried out the operation across
the border in the mountainous areas with deep snow and harsh
cold weather conditions. The units consisted of commando
trained infantry and flying units, while tank, armored, and
wheeled vehicles were used in the operation.

The weather varied from 0-5 in the daytime and between 0 to
-15 at night. The snow was 0-45cm in valleys and 1-1.5 meters
in high areas. There were intense fog and snowstorms in the
region on February 25 and 26.

Only the PKK terrorist organization was targeted, the
civilian population and local elements have not been affected
in the cross-border operation.

The excellent coordination between Land Forces, Jandarma, and
Air Force elements made the implementation of a cross-border
operation to be considered as a paragon of joint operations.

Air strikes were carried out against 60 target groups (272
targets) during the operation, while 517 different targets
were hit by the Land Forces fire support vehicles. 126
caves, 290 shelters, 12 command centers, 11 communication
facilities, six training facilities, 23 logistics facilities,
18 transportation facilities, 40 light weapon positions and
59 anti-aircraft positions were partially or entirely
destroyed since the beginning of the operation.

Along with the three captured terrorists yesterday, a total
of 240 terrorists were neutralized during the cross-border
operations.

27 security personnel (24 military personnel and three

ANKARA 00000403 002 OF 002


village guards) were martyred in the operations.
The majority of about 300 terrorists, who were identified in
the region before the operation, were neutralized while the
rest could not be contacted after they left the region.
Moreover, shelter facilities, communication equipment,
anti-aircraft positions, and life materials were considerably
destroyed in the region. Therefore, the initial goal of the
operation is assessed to have been
achieved. After the field searching activities carried out
by our units, our units started returning to the bases in our
country as of the morning of February 29, 2008.

It is obvious that a terrorist organization cannot be
eliminated with an operation carried in the region. However,
it is shown that northern Iraq is not a safe haven for
terrorists anymore.

It is evaluated that the carried out operation will prevent
the usage of the region as a permanent and safe base by the
terrorists and will contribute to the stability and internal
peace of Iraq in the long term.

The timing of the operation (when to start and when to
complete it) is determined by us solely in line with the
military needs and necessities. Turkish Armed Forces has not
been affected by any internal or external forces in making
this decision. Moreover, when these types of reports were
released, some of our units which had participated in the
operation had already been withdrawn to our borders in line
with the plans.

We will continue tracking the activities of the terrorist
organization i northern Iraq. We will not allow any threat
coming against us from that region. The fight against
terrorism will continue with determination both inside and
outside the country.

Those who have joined the organization - regardless of their
reason - are expected to seek the kindness and justice of the
state as they find out they will not be able to achieve
anything by shedding blood.

The public will be separately informed after the evaluation
of the detailed reports from the region.

End Text.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

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