US Airspace violation raises Turkey regional tensions

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Two US Air Force F-16's have violated Turkish airspace for four minutes over Hakkari province on 14 May 2007. The F-16's had reportedly taken off from Afghanistan.

The air violation comes at the same time Turkish Armed Forces conducting a search and destroy operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) making preparations for a possible military operation in north of Iraq. Turkey, NATO, and European Union considers PKK to be a terrorist organization.

Turkey had stepped up the pressure on Iraq and the United States to eliminate PKK presence in northern Iraq since the suicide attack at Ankara on May 22, 2007 which killed 6 people wounded 79.

The US Embassy in Ankara stated that: "The interpretation that this was a message to the Republic of Turkey was most certainly not true. This incident is strictly two US pilots confusing the border. The investigation is being conducted by the US Air Force."

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a program on the Turkish channel NTV stated that "if there is another airspace violation what needs to be done is clear". In military literature this translates to "unidentified military craft will be shot down" according to the Hürriyet.

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