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Turkish troops start pulling out from N Iraq
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The Turkish troops which purportedly entered northern Iraqi territories overnight Tuesday, started to pull out from Iraq's Erbil province late Tuesday afternoon, sources from Iraq's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) told Xinhua.


At least 300 Turkish troops entered northern Iraqi territories to fight militants of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), according to the report of Turkish private broadcaster NTV.


The PUK sources said that there were clashes between the Turkish security forces and the PKK in northern Iraq, but gave no further details.


However, a spokesman with the administration of the Kurdish Region declared on Tuesday that the Turkish soldiers entered into the Kurdistan land, but up to now there was no reports of clashes, adding that they did not encounter Peshmerga (Iraq's Kurdish security forces) soldiers in these areas.


He said that the Peshmerga force has been ordered to stand by to defend their land in case the Turkish force approaches further.


Earlier, a spokesman from Iraq's Kurdish border guards told Xinhua that about 100 Turkish troops carrying light weapons had entered the mountainous Bradrak area near the border.


However, the Turkish government has stopped short of explicitly confirming any military incursion into northern Iraq.


When asked to confirm the incursion, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "Our army is doing what is necessary and will continue to do so.... Terrorism is not a local phenomenon, itis international,"


The PKK, listed by the United States and Turkey as a terrorist group, took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the over-two-decade conflict.


(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2007)

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