View Full Version : Turkish anger after U.S. seizure

Sgt Sostand
07-05-03, 05:51 PM
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted with anger to the seizure of 11 Turkish soldiers by U.S. forces in northern Iraq, Saturday.

"We demand their immediate release," Erdogan said, adding it was "an ugly incident" that "should not have happened."

"For an allied country to behave in such a way toward its ally cannot be explained," he said.

The detention threatens to further strain ties between the two NATO allies, who fell out after Ankara refused to allow U.S. troops to stage attacks from its soil against Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion of its neighbor.

The detentions took place Friday afternoon at a Turkish special-forces office in the Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah.

Hurriyet, the mass-circulation Turkish newspaper, said 100 U.S. troops detained three officers and eight non-commissioned officers, moving them to the city of Kirkuk.

The soldiers were accused of planning an attack against the Kurdish governor in Kirkuk, Hurriyet said.

"None of it is believable," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolian news agency. "Turkey is working for Iraq's stability, not to destabilize Iraq.

Gul said he was in contact with U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The U.S. gave no immediate reaction.

After the arrest, Turkey closed the Habur border gate with Iraq.

Turkey has a few thousand troops inside northern Iraq as part of its campaign to suppress Turkish Kurdish rebels who waged a separatist campaign in the 1980s and 1990s in southeastern Turkey. The rebels declared a cease fire after their leader Abdullah Ocalan was caught.