Iraqi-backed Kurdish guerrillas launched a new attack against their Kurdish rivals in northern Iraq Thursday and, farther to the north, Turkish warplanes roared across the border to bomb a third Kurdish faction in mountain redoubts.
The renewed fighting between Massoud Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, combined with Turkey’s air raid along the border, left the Kurdish-inhabited region of northern Iraq mired in conflict with no end in sight despite what President Clinton has described as a successful U.S. intervention and the reported pullback of Iraqi army armor and artillery.
Barzani’s fighters said they attacked the Talabani-led forces at first light Thursday morning to expand and consolidate control of the roads around Irbil, the Kurds’ intended capital that Barzani seized last Saturday with help from Iraqi tanks, artillery and troops dispatched by President Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi assault, including an estimated 30,000 troops, prompted Clinton to order two days of missile attacks in southern Iraq.
In another retaliatory move to tighten pressure on the Iraqi leader, Clinton expanded northward - from the 32nd parallel to the 33rd - the “no-fly” zone that has been enforced in southern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But France, which helps patrol the zone from a base in Saudi Arabia, rebuffed an attempt by Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Paris Thursday to persuade the French to participate in enforcement of the enlarged portion of the zone.
The French reluctance reflected opposition in principle to Clinton’s attacks on Iraq and irritation at being asked to join in carrying out a decision made only in Washington.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara described Turkey’s air attacks in northern Iraq as “limited” and gave no estimate of damage or casualties. Officials said they were designed to prevent guerrillas of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, from launching raids into Turkey from a dozen havens set up in the northern Iraqi border mountains inhabited by sympathetic Iraqi Kurds.
Turkish officials said they also intend to establish a “security zone” on Iraq’s side of the troubled border, in effect asserting the right for the Turkish army to operate in Iraqi territory whenever it decides to strike against PKK guerrillas there. This was the first time Turkey has announced such a zone, although Turkish troops frequently have crossed the border since the Gulf War in pursuit of the PKK guerrillas fighting to set up an independent Kurdish state in Turkey.
xxxx OTHER DEVELOPMENTS Arabs burn Clinton’s effigy Hundreds of Arabs burned an effigy of President Clinton and shouted anti-Western slogans Thursday to protest two days of U.S. missile attacks. Iraq, meanwhile, denounced the attacks as a “war crime” and urged the United Nations to condemn the American action.
Building consensus difficult U.S. and British diplomats failed Thursday to overcome Russian opposition to a resolution against Iraq’s incursion into a protected area of the Kurdish north. After hours of intense negotiations, the 15-member Security Council agreed to try again today to forge a common stand against the Iraqi move.
Perry: Missiles performed well The 44 cruise missiles the U.S. Navy and Air Force fired at Iraq’s air defense network this week performed as expected and none strayed into populated areas, Defense Secretary William Perry said Thursday. He said the available evidence indicates that the missiles, which use satellite signals to find their targets, landed within about 40 feet of their assigned targets. Some targets were destroyed, while others sustained only moderate damage, Perry said in an interview with CNN at the Pentagon.
Billions spent containing Iraq Keeping Saddam Hussein “in his box,” as U.S. officials call their post-Gulf War strategy, has cost the United States more than $3 billion and tied up a lot of military resources since 1991. - From wire reports