US takes steps to prevent Kurdish/Turkish conflict in northern Iraq

25 March 2003
The US is to create a special military command in northern Iraq to maintain stability, prevent cashes between Turks and Kurds, and ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies. The creation of the Military Co-ordination and Liaison Command was announced at a news conference by Marine Major-General Henry Osman in Salahuddin on 24 March. The move reflects increased concerns about a possible outbreak of fighting between northern Iraqi Kurds and the Turkish forces that Ankara is insisting on deploying to the region. 'US and coalition partners support a secure, stable and viable Iraq, which includes the preservation of current borders,' Osman said. He said that the new command would co-ordinate humanitarian aid, ensure the rights of minorities, and communicate between the Turks and the Kurds. Ankara has been insisting on its right to send troops into the north to prevent a flood of refugees across its border and guard against any threat to its sovereignty, including attempts to create an independent Kurdish state. President Bush on 23 March condemned the deployment. 'We're making it very clear that we expect them not to come into northern Iraq,' he said. Turkey has had a limited armed presence in northern Iraq since the region gained autonomy in 1991.

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