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[casi] Errant US missile raises ire of Turkish villagers

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from the March 25, 2003 edition -

Errant US missile raises ire of Turkish villagers

The bomb does no physical damage but hardens the antiwar sentiment of local

By <A 
HREF="">Ilene R. 
Prusher</A> | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

OZVEREN, TURKEY - People in this village of about 300 never expected to be on
the map of the war against Iraq. But Monday, the day after a US missile was
dropped into the fields outside their village and two others dropped nearby a
few hours later, people were filled with a quiet anger that was broadcast all
over Turkey.

"Do you think it could be an accident?" snapped Abdurrahman Yucel, a father
of seven who was feeding his cows when he heard the strange whiz and crash
about a quarter-mile from his home. "Do you just say, 'Oh, sorry, I dropped
my missile on your village; it's just a little mistake?'"

In this corner of rural Turkey, about 430 miles northwest of the border with
Iraq, the apparently accidental dropping of three missiles late Sunday raised
ire against a war few here support, and suspicion against an ally with whom
the alliance has never been so tense.

"There is no friendship between the US and Turkey - only money," says
Abdullah Demir, the head of a neighboring village who stood guard with
military police blocking off the crash site Monday until it could be
inspected. "We've just had bombs fall on our land. How could it have been a
good idea for the government to allow American planes to fly over our land?"

The misfirings over Turkey were like a throwing a bit of itching powder on an
already uncomfortable point in Turkish-US relations regarding the war against
Iraq. Diplomats from both countries have been scrambling to reach an
understanding that would prevent Turkey from unilaterally sending its troops
into northern Iraq.

Last week, the Turkish parliament voted to allow the US to use its airspace
in order to reach Iraq. But implementation was held up for several days when
Turkey demanded that permission for the US to fly be linked to Washington's
acquiescence to Turkey's plans to send troops into Iraq. Media reports Monday
suggested that US and Turkish officials were close to reaching an agreement
that would allow between 4,000 and 6,000 Turkish soldiers to enter northern
Iraq in tandem with the US, decreasing chances that Turks and Kurds would
fight each other instead of the forces of Saddam Hussein. However, it was far
from certain whether Iraqi Kurdish groups would accept such an agreement.

Monday in Ozveren, villagers stood on a cold, muddy hilltop staring out at a
crater in the fields that normally grow pistachios, wheat, and barley. Now, a
missile was planted in the fields below, and people were kept away for fear
it could have carried hazardous materials. No one was injured in the
incidents, but concern over further misfirings raised fear and mistrust all
the same. "It was a mistake to give the US the right to fly over our
country," says Saffet Yilmaz, a young father who says his children were
hysterical from the missile crash nearby.

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