By Jennifer Thompson
Israeli military experts are helping the Turkish government combat Kurdish separatist guerillas, the French weekly "confidential" newsletter TTU said on March 17.
The newsletter, which uses unnamed sources, said Turkey was hoping to benefit from Israeli expertise and claimed a delegation of about 50 Israeli military security officials recently went to Ankara to give advice.
They proposed that Turkey set up a security cordon like the one that Israel has established in south Lebanon, with mine fields and radar to detect intruders.
Israeli spy planes have also intensified flights over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, particularly in the Yanta area, near the Syrian border, where the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has training camps, said the newsletter.
Despite earlier statements that the invasion would be limited in time, President Suleyman Demirel, in an interview with the Associated Press, said the operation will require more than just a few weeks, but probably(!) not more than a year.
Prime Minister Tansu Ciller said in an interview with a Turkish newspaper on March 22 that the incursion would continue until all rebel bases in the region were wiped out, indicating that the operation could last for some time. "We haven't put down any time limit. It will be a final blow to the PKK", she said.
Ciller said there had been no civilian casualties in the operation. But the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said Turkish forces killed a girl and wounded four other civilians in a bombing raid. The target was a suspected PKK camp at Bote, said the spokesperson, but three other villages, inhabited only by civilians, were also hit in the attack.
At the same time, Turkish troops burned two settlements in the Kurdish area of Tunjeli in eastern Turkey in an attack coinciding with the Kurdish national day, New Roz. Residents said the army had evacuated and burned at least two hamlets with a total of about 20 houses in Cemisgezek district in a return to tactics that made hundreds homeless late last year.
The attacks were part of an offensive which, according to army spokespeople, would be as large as that in northern Iraq. The offensive contradicted claims by Ciller that the PKK had been driven out of Turkey.
Hundreds of Kurds demonstrated in downtown Istanbul on Tuesday March 21, New Roz, carrying banners in support of the PKK and burning tyres.