KURDS RESTRUCTURE PESHMERGA INTO “REGULAR ARMY”
A June 13 article in the Turkish newspaper Milliyet reported how Kurdish border guards have withdrawn five kilometers from the Turkish-Iraqi border in response to Turkey’s military build-up. The Kurdish troops have withdrawn to six new military outposts in the Karavole, Batufa and Pisthabur regions. The outposts are on the opposite side of Turkey’s military installations in the country’s Silopi district in Sirnak province. The Milliyet article also discussed a report published on the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) website, which outlines how the PUK has begun efforts to restructure the KDP and PUK peshmerga forces, numbering 100,000, into a “regular army” under the command of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The purpose of the restructuring is to resist a possible large-scale Turkish incursion in northern Iraq (al-Sumaria TV, June 13).
AIN AL-HELWEH “MUJAHIDEEN” THREATEN MORE ATTACKS
On June 18, the Lebanese army continued for the fifth week to attack Fatah al-Islam militants in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Barid. Soldiers supported by heavy artillery and tank fire attacked suspected hideouts of the militants inside the camp. The fighting in Nahr al-Barid has threatened to spread to other Palestinian camps inside Lebanon and isolated incidents have already occurred. Adding to the concern was the June 6 posting on a jihadi website by the “Mujahideen of Ain al-Helweh, referring to a Palestinian refugee camp outside Sidon (http://alfirdaws.org, June 8). The statement by the fighters claimed that they killed two Lebanese soldiers “in retaliation for the aggression” against the people of Nahr al-Barid. Lebanese authorities confirmed that two Lebanese soldiers were killed on the night of June 3 by what were believed to be members of Jund al-Sham (Agence-France Presse, June 5; Terrorism Focus, June 12). The internet statement warns that the killing of the two soldiers was only “the first act of retaliation against the aggression, which is continuing against our brothers and people in Nahr al-Barid camp.” The statement was signed by “The Media Office of the Mujahideen of Ain al-Helweh.”