The military is planning to build a string of fortresses along the mountainous border with Iraq to prevent incursions by Kurdish guerrillas.
Gen. Hasan Kundakci, who commanded Turkey’s five-week campaign to wipe out Kurdish guerrilla camps in northern Iraq, said in a newspaper interview Friday that bases would be constructed for a “sufficient number” of soldiers to keep rebels from launching cross-border attacks.
The new fortifications would supplement existing bases along the border, where patrolling is difficult due to the rugged terrain.
Turkey sent its troops into northern Iraq on March 20 to wipe out some 20 camps used by 2,800 rebels for cross-border attacks. Guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK, have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for 11 years.
Patrolled by allied warplanes since the end of the Gulf War, the area is controlled by Iraq Kurds who want independence from Baghdad and is beyond the reach of President Saddam Hussein’s military.
Turkey pulled out 20,000 soldiers from Iraq this week, but some 12,000 still remain there. Turkey’s Western allies have pressured Ankara to withdraw the rest.