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[casi] Turkish military trucks head towards Iraqi border

So much for Turkish democracy....


Turkish military trucks head towards Iraqi border
general staff describes movement as ‘transfer, training exercise,
activities’, part of preliminary security measures.

ANKARA - Some 200 Turkish military trucks were on their way to the Iraqi
border Thursday, television reports and correspondents said, but the
Turkish army denied this was a sign of a cross-border operation.
"All these moves by the Turkish armed forces are preliminary security
measures in the army's own area of responsibility," the general staff
said in a statement.

The tarpaulin-covered Turkish trucks rumbled through the town of Silopi
heading towards for the border post of Habur, 15 kilometers (10 miles)
farther to the south.

The general staff described the movement as "transfer, training and
exercise activities", denying media reports that the army had reinforced
its military presence in neighbouring Kurdish-held northern Iraq.

Meanwhile hundreds of kilometers (miles) to the west, dozens of trailer
trucks carrying US military vehicles, recently unloaded from US vessels,
left Iskenderun, according to television footage.

The US trucks, escorted by police, headed towards Mardin, a town north
of the Syrian border, and then carried on eastwards.

The Turkish army said the US activity came in the framework of Ankara's
permission for US army engineers to upgrade several bases and ports in
Turkey ahead of a possible war in Iraq.

"All activities carried out by foreigners in our country... are closely
monitored and controlled by the armed forces and related authorities,"
it added.

Several hundred US military vehicles, including trucks, radio
transmission vehicles and other types of troop transporters, were landed
at Iskenderun about two weeks ago. Turkish authorities said at the time
they were to be used by some 3,500 pioneer experts modernizing Turkish

At least eight other ships have been lying offshore for the past few
days, awaiting a green light from the Turkish parliament to bring heavy
armor ashore, shipping sources said.

Parliament voted against such a move last weekend, rejecting a
government request for the deployment of 62,000 US troops and their

But on Thursday Turkey appeared to be swinging round to US war plans
after the powerful army threw its weight behind the deployment of US
forces in the country in preparation for a possible invasion of northern

Breaking its usual silence on the crisis the military warned that Turkey
would lose both vital US financial aid and a say in shaping post-war
Iraq if it denied support to its number one ally.

"Unfortunately, our choice here is not between good and bad, but between
bad and worse... If we do not participate, we will suffer the same war
damage, but it will never be possible to compensate for it and have a
say after the war," chief of staff general Hilmi Ozkok said.

However a new vote was not expected before the end of next week at best,
after a government reshuffle expected after the election Sunday of
governing party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to parliament.

The election will eventually allow Erdogan, the leader of the Justice
and Development Party, to become prime minister.

He had been legally barred from running in general elections last
November due to a past conviction for Islamist sedition.

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