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U.S. Forces Arrive in Kurdish-run Northern Iraq - 2003-03-24


U.S. forces have formally announced their arrival in Kurdish-run northern Iraq, but have declined to say if they are there to open a northern front. Military commander for southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, Major General Henry P. Osman.

MAJOR GENERAL HENRY P. OSMAN, MILITARY COMMANDER FOR SOUTHEAST TURKEY AND NORTHERN IRAQ
“This Command has been established to conduct a liaison and co-ordination with military and humanitarian assistance organizations within south-east Turkey and northern Iraq.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan says Ankara wants to send troops into Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to provide security and stability in the region.

This as President George Bush warned Turkey not to unilaterally send its troops into Kurdish held Northern Iraq.

GEORGE BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT

"We've made it very clear to them we expect them not to go into Northern Iraq and they know we're working with the Kurds to make sure there is not an incident that would cause there to be an excuse to go into Northern Iraq."

Despite U.S. calls to stay out of northern Iraq, Mr. Erdogan said in a nationally televised address that any deployment of Turkish troops would be aimed at protecting Turkish security and preventing a refugee crisis.

He said Turkish soldiers would guarantee peace and extend humanitarian aid in northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurds have been running their own affairs since the end of the first Gulf war in 1991. They have threatened to use force if Turkish troops attempt to enter their semi-autonomous region.

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