US Closes Northern Iraq Base As Turkey Intensifies PKK Border Operations

The U.S. military moved forward with its drawdown operations by officially shutting down one of its regional headquarters today. The base oversaw areas of northern Iraq where Turkish troops continued retaliating against Kurdish rebels. Meanwhile, at least four Iraqis were killed and 15 more were wounded in violence further south in Baghdad and Sadr City.

During a ceremony near Tikrit today, U.S. forces officially shut down Contingency Operating Base Speicher and redeployed the 750 personnel assigned there. The base is the second of three regional headquarters deactivated before the Dec. 31 withdrawal, and its closure consolidates U.S. operations into one army unit. Some of Iraq’s most dangerous and politically difficult areas in the north were under the authority of this division.

Turkey, meanwhile, increased the number of troops now pursuing Kurdish rebels in the southeastern provinces and northern Iraq to 10,000 servicemembers. The exact number of troops crossing the border was not released, but the surge in operations comes a day after rebels killed 24 soldiers. Baghdad condemned the P.K.K.’s attack and said Iraq would cooperate with Turkey. The Kurdish government, however, remained cool and indicated they do not plan on becoming involved in the conflict. The Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) has launched many attacks from its hideouts in northern Iraq. The war has left tens of thousands dead in nearly 30 years of fighting.

Reports of violence have otherwise been scant. Only four Iraqis were killed and 15 were wounded in two attacks today.

Three people were killed and 15 more were wounded in Sadr City when three bombs exploded near a restaurant.

Gunmen killed an army officer in Baghdad‘s Adhamiya district.

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Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.