U.S. helping Turkey attack Kurdish militants in Iraq

Pentagon officials confirmed that the NATO ally has been getting U.S. help picking targets for its moves against Kurdish separatists.

Published December 18, 2007 8:07PM (EST)

Yesterday, we told you that in the midst of bad news coming out of the south of Iraq, there was some potentially disturbing news from northern Iraq as well.

Turkey has been, unsurprisingly, moving against Kurdish separatists based in the Kurdish stronghold in northern Iraq. It's worried that any gains the Kurds make in Iraq will be reflected in demands for increased autonomy by the Kurds in Turkey. Meanwhile, the Kurdish region of Iraq has long been that country's stablest, and the Iraqi Kurds the U.S.' best ally, and they're not happy about signs that the U.S. may be helping Turkey in its attacks. They must be even less happy today, as the Washington Post reports that Iraqi Kurds' fears have some basis in reality; Pentagon officials confirmed to the Post that Turkey has been getting U.S. help picking targets.

"The United States is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday," the Post says.

These efforts may be aimed at preventing a larger conflict. As the Post notes, Turkey has threatened an invasion of Iraq with the aim of crushing the rebels. "Persistent attacks in Turkey by [Kurdish] rebels operating from bases in the Qandil mountains have presented a thorny dilemma for U.S. policymakers," the Post says. "Turkey has threatened to mount a full-scale, cross-border incursion to clear out [rebel] camps in northern Iraq. That could effectively open a new front in the Iraq war and disrupt the flow of supplies to the U.S. military in Iraq, which receives 70 percent of its air cargo and a third of its fuel through Turkey."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Iraq Middle East War Room