After PKK Attacks on Soldiers, Turks Clamor for Incursion into Iraq

After PKK Attacks on Soldiers, Turks Clamor for Incursion into Iraq

"Daddy, I thought you were coming home after Bayram," read somber headlines in newspapers across Turkey Oct. 10, capturing the sentiments of the daughters of a soldier killed by a PKK ambush in southeastern Turkey. Bayram is the three-day celebration that started Oct. 12 to mark the end of the month of Ramadan. It is custom for fathers, sons, brothers and husbands fulfilling their military duties to return home on Bayram to briefly visit their loved ones, and bring presents and candies to children.

The last two weeks have seen the assassination of 30 soldiers in the perilous southeastern border city of Sirnak. Their fate was not to come home for Bayram, nor thereafter, their names now added to the more than 250 soldiers who have died in the last year alone fighting Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) terrorists in the rugged, mountainous eastern part of the country. The Turkish media was quick to describe the attacks as the worst in 12 years in a conflict dating back to the 1980s that has taken almost 40,000 lives.

A heartrending poem written by 20-year-old soldier Sükrü Karatas, in the last letter sent to his family before he fell victim to the PKK, pierced the heart of many Turks. "If it happens that I die in a clash," he wrote prophetically, "Do not mourn for me, let me rest peacefully under my earth; Do not remove my uniform, for it is my pride, my shroud upon death; Do not remove my beret, for it will be my glory, my honor." His words, a poignant embodiment of Turkish pride in serving his country, fueled the outpouring of public sorrow and outrage. With so many lives suddenly and senselessly interrupted, the public is demanding that the government take immediate action to cease the bloodbath within and outside Turkey's borders.

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