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Turkish government seeks parliamentary approval for Iraq incursion

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government will seek parliamentary approval for a military operation against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, a government spokesman said Monday, taking action on one of two major issues straining relations with Washington.

The government will immediately send a motion to the Parliament in hopes of a vote later this week, government spokesman Cemil Cicek said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government twice acquired similar authorizations from the Parliament in 2003, but did not act on them.

Cicek insisted the only target was the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK.

"We have always respected the sovereignty of Iraq, which is a friendly and brotherly country to us," Cicek said. "But the reality that everyone knows is that this terrorist organization, which has bases in the north of Iraq, is attacking the territorial integrity of Turkey and its citizens."

The statement appeared to be aimed at reassuring Iraq's central government as well as Iraqi Kurds, who run their own administration in northern Iraq.

Fighting along the border with Iraq was reported over the weekend, where Turkey's military said it "responded heavily" to attacks from northern Iraq by Kurdish fighters on Friday. Iraqi Kurds reported that Turkish artillery hit their territory.

Senior rebel commander Duran Kalkan said the Turkish military would suffer a serious blow if it launches a cross-border offensive, saying it would "be bogged down in a quagmire," the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency reported Monday.

Oil prices rose Monday, partly reflecting concerns over a conflict that could open up a new front in the Iraq war. Light, sweet crude for November delivery hit a new high of $85.19 a barrel before retreating in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, midafternoon in Europe.