Turkey bombs suspected Kurdish rebels

SIRNAK, Turkey – Turkish warplanes bombed positions of suspected Kurdish rebels Wednesday, and the prime minister said preparations for parliamentary approval of a military mission against separatist fighters in Iraq were under way.A cross-border operation could hurt Turkey’s relationship with the United States, which opposes Turkish intervention in northern Iraq, a region that has escaped the violence afflicting much of the rest of the country.

U.S. officials are already preoccupied with efforts to stabilize areas of Iraq outside the predominantly Kurdish northern region.

Turkey and the United States are NATO allies, but ties have also been tense over a U.S. congressional bill that would label the mass killings of Armenians by Turks around the time of World War I as genocide. President Bush strongly urged Congress to reject the bill, saying it would do “great harm” to U.S.-Turkish relations.

Turkish troops blocked rebel escape routes into Iraq while F-16 and F-14 warplanes and Cobra helicopters dropped bombs on possible hideouts, Dogan news agency reported. The military had dispatched tanks to the region to support the operation against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in response to more than a week of deadly attacks in southeastern Turkey.

Turkish authorities also detained 20 suspected Kurdish rebels at a border crossing with Iraq, the office for the governor of Sirnak said in a statement.

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