Turkish troops fire at anti-war demonstrators
The Jerusalem Post

12 March 2003

Turkish soldiers fired shots in the air and police clashed with peace demonstrators Wednesday as they tried to enter the southern Turkish port of Iskenderun where US forces are unloading materiel ahead of an Iraq war.

Dozens of protesters of the Turkish Communist Party walked toward the base chanting "USA. get out! This country is ours!" Soldiers shot in the air as the demonstrators tried to push their way past the security cordon, waving red flags.

Police wielding truncheons clashed with the demonstrators and detained at least four people, private television CNN-Turk reported.

No US soldiers were involved in the clashes.

US support equipment, including Humvees, fuel trucks, and flatbed trucks, have been unloaded in Iskenderun, Turkey's easternmost port, in the past weeks. The materiel has been transported to waiting stations near the Turkish-Iraqi border.

The equipment is for the renovation of Turkish bases and ports, which Washington hopes to use in case of war in Iraq.

Washington has been pressing Turkey to authorize the deployment of more than 60,000 US combat troops in Turkey to open a northern front against Iraq. The United States cannot unload attack materiel, such as tanks and weapons, without that authorization.

Several US ships have been waiting off Iskenderun's coast to unload equipment for the 4th Infantry Division.

The parliament rejected a government-backed resolution authorizing the deployment earlier this month, but Turkish leaders are considering resubmitting the resolution to parliament.

Turks are overwhelmingly opposed to any war in Iraq, but the government says Turkey cannot risk alienating the United States, its closest ally. Ankara also fears losing a say in the future of Iraq.
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