Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says a Turkish military incursion against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq would have serious repercussions for the entire region.
Zebari told VOA Kurdish Service that Iraq does not approve of the rebels' presence in the northern autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. But he said a Turkish parliament decision authorizing cross-border military operations against the rebels could destabilize the region. He said the measure also violates Iraq's sovereignty.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who is in Egypt, said parliament authorized the action because efforts to curb terrorism by working with the U.S. and Iraqi governments have failed.
In the United States, a visiting Iraqi government spokesman urged Turkey to refrain from crossing the Iraqi border. He told reporters at the White House that the problem with Kurdish rebels cannot be solved militarily.
Meanwhile, thousands of Kurds rallied in northern Iraq to protest the threat of a Turkish incursion.
Government workers, students and others waved Kurdish flags and shouted slogans praising Kurdish identity as they marched to a U.N. building in Irbil, the seat of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish regional government. The protesters delivered a letter to U.N. officials calling on the world body to intervene and prevent a Turkish military operation inside Iraq.
The measure approved Wednesday by Turkey's parliament gives authorization lasting one year for cross-border military action. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said passage of the motion does not mean an attack is imminent.
Turkey blames Iraq-based rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party for attacks that have killed about 30 soldiers and civilians in the past two weeks.