US Predator Flights Continue over Parts of Iraq

While US combat troops are now out of Iraq, Predator remotely piloted aircraft operating from Incirlik AB, Turkey, will continue flying unarmed reconnaissance flights over northern Iraq to support NATO ally Turkey in its conflict against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK. The Iraqi government is permitting these flights, Defense Leon Panetta told reporters on Dec. 16 during his official visit to Ankara, reported the Washington Post. “As you know, we do provide some technology to assist [the Turks] in their efforts against the PKK,” said Panetta during a roundtable in Ankara on the following day. He said he made it “very clear” to Turkish officials that the United States would continue to assist their efforts to confront the PKK. The State Department considers the PKK a terrorist organization. PKK fighters have continued to launch attacks against the Turkish government from havens in northern Iraq. From 2007, during the US military presence, the United States reportedly flew Predator missions from bases in Iraq to monitor PKK activities. (Panetta roundtable transcript) (See also Voice of America report.)