September 29, 2009 / 5:09 PM / 10 years ago

Turkey seeks to extend mandate to fight rebels in Iraq

ISTANBUL, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Turkey’s government said on Tuesday it would ask parliament to extend for one year a mandate that allows its military to attack Kurdish rebels in north Iraq.

The government’s move follows pledges by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to address decades-old Kurdish grievances and find an end to the conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has claimed some 40,000 lives since 1984.

Turkish fighter jets have staged a series of strikes on PKK targets in neighbouring northern Iraq since October 2007, and in February 2008 the military sent significant land forces across the border to fight the outlawed group.

Hundreds of PKK fighters have been killed during the incursion, according to the military. The United States, which lists the PKK as a terrorist organisation, and Iraq have urged Turkey to limit the scope and number of strikes.

Parliament, dominated by Erdogan’s AK Party, will vote to extend the mandate when it reconvenes after summer recess on Oct 1, Cemil Cicek, the government’s spokesman, told reporters in televised comments after a cabinet meeting in the capital.

Kurdish politicians have said continuing clashes with the PKK as Erdogan seeks to resolve the 25-year war could undermine the peace process. (Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Charles Dick)

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