Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turkish military acknowledge mass graves of PKK militants in Bitlis

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Erbil, Feb. 8 (AKnews) – The chiefs of staff of the Turkish army said on Tuesday that the human remains found near the southeastern city of Bitlis belong to outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants killed in clashes there in 1999.Bitlis‭ ‬Minare

The clashes took place between Turkish troops and PKK militants in the Ghijit Cuyo, Ala Tobrak and Cohan farm areas on September 8, 9 and 17 in 1999.

“The dead were buried in the Mottaki town in the same month after performing autopsies and obtaining the approval for the burial from the prosecution,” said the Turkish army’s Chief of Staff.
"Photos of the terrorists, autopsy reports, burial admission forms, investigation files and documents were presented to the Mottaki mayor," he continued.

Arsene Sounmazler, the head of the Free Thought and Educational Rights Assembly in Tatephan told AKnews that the discovery of the mass graves had ignited the hatred of some while offering hope to others that their relatives could now be returned home and buried.

“The mass graves found in the town reflect similar crimes to those committed by Serbs against the Bosnians,” he continued, adding that these are not the only graves – pointing to the existence of further mass graves in other parts of the city.
”There are about 100 mass graves in the city and hundreds of them in Kurdish areas,” he said,  “Anti-terrorism forces in the Turkish army and elements of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) have committed many crimes not only against the PKK, but also against the elders of those areas, burying them on different sites.”

Sounmazler said there was a need to "to expose the perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice,” adding that “this would reduce the suffering of the families.”

Excavation work began on January 12 in Mottaki town at the request of the parents of the missing persons. The remains of more than 20 people were found.
Approximately 17,500 people, mostly Kurds, were victims of the conflict that started between the Turkish forces and the PKK in the 1990s.
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the biggest Kurdish party in Turkey led by Salah al-Din Damirttash has called for the formation of a committee to investigate the circumstances behind the mass graves, shedding light on the crimes that it believes took place.

Reported by Arkoln Toprak

Tuesday, February 8th 2011 5:44 PM

Source: Iran presses on Iraq to replace US weapons deal with French

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Baghdad, Feb. 8 (AKnews) - An Iraqi MP said Tuesday that Iran is pressing on the Iraqi government to revoke a US F16 fighters purchase deal to replace it with another deal to buy French-made Mirage fighters.f16

The accusation came after an Iraqi satellite TV channel, al-Sahrqiya, reported that the Iraqi government intended to cancel a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States.

According to Iraq's Defense Ministry, Iraq has a weapons deal with the US to purchase 18 F-16 fighting aircrafts  which are expected to be delivered by the end of 2013 in a move to enhance the air force abilities of the new army.

MP Iskandar Wattout, deputy head of the security committee in the Iraqi parliament, criticized Tuesday Iranian interventions in the Iraqi affairs saying threatening to launch an investigation with the Iraqi government if it so intended.

"The news of the Iraqi government intentions to cancel the purchase deal to replace (the US F-16s) with French-made Mirage came after Iranian pressure." said Mr Wattout.

"Iraq has signed agreements with neighboring countries, including Iran, not to interfere in the internal affairs (of Iraq) and respect the sovereignty of the country"

The F-16 Fighting Falcon, the first of the US Air Force multi-role fighter aircraft, is the world's most prolific fighter with more than 2,000 in service within the US Air Force and 2,000 operational in 25 other countries.

The F-16 and the F-15 Eagle were the world's first aircraft able to withstand higher g-forces than the pilots. The Fighting Falcon entered service in 1979.

"The F-16 planes have high qualities if compared to the French Mirage" says Wattout, "and they will be purchased to defend Iraq, and Iran should have no concerns about it"

AKnews tried to contact Mohammed al-Askeri, the spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, but he said he was ill. "I can not confirm or deny the story because of my absence from the ministry since a week due to illness"

Reported by Wissam al-Jaff
Tuesday, February 8th 2011 11:43 AM