Is the US military ready?
Turkey boosts troops at Iraqi border: sources
Paul de Bendern, Reuters
Published: Friday, July 13, 2007
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey -- Turkey's army has boosted troop levels in the restive southeast to more than 200,000, most of them stationed along the border with Iraq, security sources told Reuters Friday.More
Those sources, who declined to be named, said the unusually large buildup, which includes tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft, was part of a security crackdown on Kurdish rebels hiding in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed the estimate of 200,000 troops, saying it was too high.
"I have not seen anything that would indicate there are numbers of Turkey's soldiers along the border of that size," Gates told reporters in Washington.
The Pentagon has disputed reports of increased Turkish troop levels for days. The top U.S. general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace, said Turkey has the capability to fight the rebels inside Iraq without boosting troop levels.
"The truth of the matter is that the Turkish armed forces on their side of the border have always had sufficient forces to be able to take actions without having to be reinforced," Pace said.
NATO-member Turkey has refused to rule out a possible cross-border operation to crush up to 4,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels believed to be based in mountains in northern Iraq, despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad.
The military General Staff in Ankara was not immediately available for comment on troop numbers. It usually does not release such figures.