Turkish army denies US report on Uludere intel
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The Turkish army today denied media reports that the intelligence that led to the bombing of 34 civilians was received from United States’ drones, repeating that images of the smugglers’ caravan were taken by Turkish military’s unarmed aerial vehicles.
“The report does not reflect the reality,” the Chief of General Staff said in a short written statement posted on its website late yesterday. It also added that detailed information about the incident has been sent to necessary institutions. The military’s statement came after a nearly two hour-long meeting between Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
A Wall Street Journal report on May 16 suggested that the initial intelligence about a crowded group’s mobility from northern Iraq to Turkey was taken by a U.S. drone and suggested that Turkish officers did not accept U.S. offers to provide better images from the Predator. The army’s statement did not mention this claim.
The government and the military came under renewed pressure to explain how the botched air raid at Uludere unfolded following the report, with the opposition parties harshly criticizing the government for lying.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the report was not officially confirmed. “Judicial and administrative investigations are going on. The investigations will provide the ultimate answer to the questions,” he said. Both the military and the a specially authorized prosecutor launched separate probes into the incident only a few days after the attack took place on Dec. 28, but no results have yet been made public.
The office of the Diyarbakır-based specially authorized prosecutor, in the meantime, said the newspaper’s report would not change the course of the investigation, which could seek further information from the military upon the evaluation of documents provided by the army.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has long claimed that intelligence coming from foreign sources prompted the raid, accused Prime Minister Erdoğan of “lying” and urged him to publicly apologize. CHP deputy chair Birgül Ayman Güler recalled that Erdoğan had insisted the intelligence for the strike came from national sources. “There is a prime minister who deceives people. He must correct his lie by apologizing,” she said.