(Combined Sources)–Kurdish separatist rebels said on Friday they were crossing back into Turkey to target politicians and police after Ankara said it was preparing to attack them in the mountains of northern Iraq.
A statement by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) could further increase domestic pressure on Ankara to launch a major offensive that Washington fears could destabilize a relatively peaceful area of Iraq and have ramifications through the region.
"The guerrillas are not moving to the south (northern Iraq); on the contrary they are moving to…places in the north," the PKK said in a statement published on Firat news agency.
The PKK statement said its fighters planned to carry out attacks against Turkey’s police force, ruling AK Party and the main opposition CHP unless certain conditions were met. The statement did not elaborate further.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said earlier his government was prepared to face any international criticism if Turkey launched an attack against some 3,000 PKK rebels who use northern Iraq as a base to attack Turkish targets.
Asked about world reaction to such an incursion, Erdogan told reporters: "After going down this route, its cost has already been calculated. Whatever the cost is, it will be met."
Some analysts say an operation became more likely after a vote on Wednesday in which a U.S. congressional committee branded killings of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks during World War One as genocide–a charge Turkey firmly denies.
The PKK statement moved world oil prices back above $83 dollars a barrel, traders said. The Kirkuk oil fields of northern Iraq feed export pipelines running north into Turkey.
Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.
Erdogan’s government, which faces pressure from the public and the army to act, has decided to seek approval from parliament next week for a major operation.
Erdogan, speaking outside a mosque in Istanbul after prayers for a religious holiday, said he wanted to secure parliament’s approval now to avoid spending time later with the procedure if, and when a cross-border operation was warranted.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Erdogan on Thursday to express her disappointment at the U.S. bill, which the White House has tried to stop.
Over the past few days Washington has sought to calm tensions with Turkey, and urged it not to take unilateral action.
Ankara recalled its ambassador from the United States for consultations after the vote, which was strongly condemned in predominantly Muslim but secular Turkey.
The Turkish government cautioned on Thursday that relations with its NATO ally would be harmed by the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee’s decision.
The non-binding resolution by the congressional committee now goes to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Democrat leaders say there will be a vote by mid-November. The resolution was proposed by a leading politician with many Armenian-Americans in his district.
Erdogan said Turkey respected Iraq’s unity but if it did nothing to stop the separatist PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union–then Ankara had to act.