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Iraqi Kurds Protest Turkey Threat of Cross-Border Military Action


Thousands of Kurds in the Iraqi border town of Zakho protested Saturday against Turkey's threat of possible cross-border military action. Turkey has threatened to attack Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq, which it says are used to stage attacks inside Turkey. VOA's Deborah Block has further details from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Protesters in the town of Zakho, in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, waved the Kurdish flag, and warned they would defend their territory. They called on Turkey not to launch any cross-border attacks. A similar rally was held in the nearby city of Dahuk.

One imam says Turkey is trying to destabilize the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, which has been spared the violence rocking much of the rest of the country.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders have strongly spoken out against a Turkish incursion into their territory. Nawzad Hadi is governor of Irbil, capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. He says, although it will not be easy, any violation of the Iraqi Kurdistan region will be met with resistance from the Kurdish people with everything they have.

The Kurdistan regional president, Massoud Barzani, blames Kurdish rebels at the border for the attacks inside Turkey, and says Kurdistan does not support the violence.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging all sides to show restraint. He is calling on the Iraqi and Kurdish regional governments to ensure Iraq's territory is not used to mount cross-border attacks.

Meanwhile, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has criticized Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad for saying he would support a possible Turkish incursion. Mr. Talabani says the Syrian president's remarks are dangerous, and contrary to the spirit of Arab solidarity.

The Iraqi and Kurdish regional parliaments are scheduled to discuss the border situation on Sunday.

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