Top general visits troops, bases at Iraq, Iran border
HAKKARİ - Doğan News Agency
Turkey’s Chief of Staff General Necdet Özel (C) visits a military base.Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel made a visit to the southeastern province of Hakkari’s Çukurca district on the border with Iraq yesterday, together with the army’s top commanders.
Özel’s visit reportedly aimed to monitor the spring and summer preparation and organization of troops. He traveled to the border region to inspect the troops and meet the armed personnel, according the officials.
Land Forces Commander Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu, Air Forces Commander Mehmet Erten, Naval Forces Commander Murat Bilgel and Gendarmerie Forces Commander Bekir Kalyoncu accompanied Özel. Tight security measures were taken all along the borders.
Özel and top commanders visited Çukurca district of Hakkari today, which is on the zero point of Turkey’s border with Iraq. The district was hit by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, and many soldiers died there.
Five Sikorsky helicopters carried the commanders to Çukurca 2nd Border Infantry Brigade Command early today. Two cobra helicopters also accompanied the top commanders. The commanders also visited the Işıklı, Çayırlı and Hakan Hill region on the border with helicopters.
On April 30, Özel first stopped off at the province of Van, where he met local commanders and officials before moving on to the rural and mountainous Şemdinli area, neighboring both Iran and Iraq. He also visited the troops at the Iranian border in the Yüksekova district further north.
The visit came a week after the PKK announced that its militants would start to withdraw to northern Iraq as of May 8. The Armed Forces had refuted claims that military forces were being reduced in a number of regions, related to PKK’s pullout from the country. Deployments of military forces are reorganized every summer and winter due to the changing security measures, the army officials explained.