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Turkey Said Ready to Send Troops to Iraq

The Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper reported Tuesday that Turkey is planning to deploy 65,000 to 70,000 troops in northern Iraq if there is a massive U.S. assault from the north.
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey - Turkey has plans to send tens of thousands of soldiers into northern Iraq if the United States attacks through the north, senior intelligence and military sources said Tuesday.

The Turkish mission would be aimed at preventing a Kurdish state and stopping a possible flood of refugees, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some 4,000 Turkish troops, including engineers, have already been sent to the rugged, mountainous border region so that Turkish troops could quickly be rushed into northern Iraq if there is a conflict, said the sources, who have been part of the Turkish planning.

U.S. officials have apparently asked for Turkish permission to send tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers through Turkey into Iraq if there is a war. Turkish military officials have said that if there is an attack through the north, Turkey plans on sending its own soldiers into the region.

The daily Hurriyet newspaper reported Tuesday that Turkey is planning to deploy 65,000 to 70,000 troops in northern Iraq if there is a massive U.S. assault from the north.

A senior Turkish intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that report. He said that Turkey is especially concerned that if Iraq disintegrates, Iraqi Kurds could seize the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Mosul is a key regional center, and Kirkuk is home to major oil fields.

Control of those cities would make the Kurds a significant regional power.

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