Amid the distant sound of occasional explosions on Sunday, Turkish warplanes buzzed over a desolate mountain pass in the village of Sirya in Amadiyah, 15 miles from the Turkish border. Besides vultures hovering over the jagged mountain peaks, Kurdish government forces were the only fighters in the area. A bridge over a gushing creek in the area was reduced to a pile of metal.
Kurdish anger toward US for providing assistance to Turkey, its NATO ally, in its bombardment of suspected PKK targets has been simmering since last fall. It has led to public outbursts and now it appears to have become more serious, threatening one of the most important partnerships for the US in Iraq at a time when Washington is anxious to translate security gains into more lasting stability.
Adding to the stakes is the fact that US forces, with the help of Iraqi forces dominated by Kurdish contingents, continue to battle Al Qaeda-linked militants and other insurgents in areas such as Mosul and Kirkuk, which border Kurdistan and have significant sectarian and ethnic tension.
The event that unleashed most of the Kurdish anger here was what took place Thursday when about 350 Turkish soldiers rolled out of their barracks inside Iraq at Bamerne, west of Amadiyah, in 13 tanks to join their comrades coming from across the border, according to Mohsen. About 1,200 Turkish soldiers are stationed at Bamerne.