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So much for Turkish democracy.... Dan 2003-03-06 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 facilities. 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 equipment. 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 Iraq. 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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk