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Turkish Military Denies US Pressure on Iraq Withdrawal


Turkey's top military commander says Ankara's decision to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq was not due to any pressure from the United States.

General Yasar Buyukanit told a Turkish newspaper, Milliyet, that Friday's withdrawal was for purely military reasons, adding that the troops had accomplished their mission against Kurdish rebels.

On Thursday, President Bush had urged Ankara to bring a quick end to the ground offensive.

The Turkish military says it killed 240 Kurdish rebels and lost 27 of its own soldiers in a week of fighting. Officials said the operation also destroyed more than 400 logistical targets.

Rebels loyal to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey since 1984.

A spokesman for President Bush says the U.S. will continue to work with Turkey to deal with the PKK, which Washington calls a terrorist group.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani welcomed Turkey's withdrawal and said it shows Ankara kept its word to keep the operation limited and temporary. Iraq had initially denounced Turkey for violating its sovereignty and demanded an immediate troop withdrawal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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