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Iraq condemns Turkish attacks

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  • Iraq's Kurdish regional gov't sends team to area where Turkish jets hit targets
  • Iraq urges halt to Turkish military assaults
  • Baghdad says one woman injured and hospital destroyed in airstrikes
  • Turkish ambassador summoned over latest incidents
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's Kurdish regional government on Monday dispatched a team to survey the bombarded swath of northern Iraq where Turkish jets pounded targets identified as Kurdish separatist lairs and expressed concern that civilians have been caught in the crossfire.

Iraqis inspect the damage after attacks by Turkish war planes.

Jamal Abdullah, the spokesman of the Kurdish Regional Government, said the committee, headed by the government's Ministry of Social Affairs went to the Qalat Dizah area to assess damage and meet families displaced by the bombardment.

He confirmed the death of one woman and four others wounded in the bombing.

"The PKK has given the Turkish government and military the excuse to carry out such operations," Abdullah said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the separatist group.

"We ask the Turkish government stand by what it had pledged at the beginning of this latest conflict that it has no problem with the people or the government of the Kurdish region, so why are civilians in the Kurdish region getting affected? They have to distinguish between civilians in struggle areas and PKK elements."

Tensions have been high along the Iraqi-Turkish border, with Turkey threatening to launch a full-scale cross-border offensive against separatist PKK guerrillas.

Early Sunday, Turkish warplanes and long-range missiles attacked Kurdish rebel positions in the mountains, Turkish military officials said.

Turkish ground troops launched long-range missiles at the PKK positions after the air attack, and all warplanes returned safely to their bases in Turkey, the statement said.

The KRG's Abdullah said the Turks bombed different border areas, including regions in Duhuk and Sulaimaniya provinces, two of the three Iraqi provinces in region administered by the KRG. Irbil province is the third.

Abdullah explained the Qalat Dizah where civilian casualties were sustained is close to what is known as the "border triangle." That's where Iran, Turkey and Iraq's Kurdish region meet and PKK elements are present in that region. The other area bombed in the Kara Mountains in Duhuk.

Abdullah, who said the strikes started at 2 a.m. and lasted two hours, asserted that peaceful negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and that the United States, Turkey, the Kurdish government and the Iraqi central government all must confront the PKK problem.

The strike was condemned by Iraqi government officials.

The presidency of Iraq's Council of Representatives -- which includes parliamentary speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani and two deputies -- deplored the bombardment and urged Turkey to use "dialogue and wisdom in resolving its internal issues"

Their statement said Turkey should respect Iraq's sovereignty and it called on the U.N. Security Council to put a stop such military operations inside Iraq's border.

Hours after the strike was reported, Iraq's government summoned Turkey's ambassador and told him that the country's bombing mission in northern Iraq killed a woman, wounded four other people, and destroyed a health clinic, a school and bridges.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Mohamad Hajj Hmoud, its undersecretary for legal affairs and multilateral relations, asked the envoy to tell the Turkish government "to halt such military actions that effect innocent and causes panic which may affect the friendly relations existing between the two peoples and governments of the two neighbors."

Hmoud gave the ambassador a memorandum "about the Turkish military aircraft's bombing a group of Iraqi villages" in northern Iraq. He said along with the woman's death and the four injuries and the structural damage, "many families" were displaced.

A press attache at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara told CNN on Monday that the United States had been told about the plans for the strikes and reiterated that it is Turkey's decision on whether to carry out such actions. Since early November, the United States and Turkey have been sharing intelligence on the PKK, she said.

Abdullah said the KRG has no official information confirming reports that the United States OK'd the airstrikes.

"We have no official information on this, but it is obvious and expected that Turkish planes have to get prior clearance to enter the Iraqi Kurdish region's airspace," he said, adding that President Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed last month to share intelligence on the matter.

Asked whether the United States provided "actionable intelligence" for Turkey, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman smiled and replied "the U.S. continues to assist with information to the Turkish government that will help them deal with the insurgent situation that they have up there."

Another official -- on background -- told CNN he would "not steer anyone away from that conclusion."

A CNN stringer, who visited the area in Sulamaniya on Sunday talked to local officials and witnesses who said bombing occurred about 120 kilometers, or nearly 75 miles, north of Sulaimaniya.

Local officials said about 200 families from the villages of Sankaser and Jarawa fled the area following the Turkish air strikes, a school and 10 houses were destroyed. Officials said the bombing was the most intense inside northern Iraq in years, with fighter jets deployed.

A pro-PKK Web site reported five guerrillas and two civilians killed.

The PKK militants have launched actions against Turkish troops from northern Iraq and have been fighting the Turkish government forces in southeastern Turkey, where the violence has been steady.

The Turkish military government received approval from the parliament in October to take military action "at any time." There are tens of thousands of Turkish troops near the border area.

The United States, the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government had pursued diplomatic efforts over the past two months to keep Turkey from launching an offensive against the PKK. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Roya Shadravan contributed to this report

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