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TURKISH AIRCRAFT ATTACK VILLAGES IN IRAQ AS TROOPS BATTLE KURDS

Turkish troops pursuing rebel Kurds fought fierce battles Saturday around northern Iraq's Metina mountain, and warplanes reportedly hit three villages at its base.

Troops also occupied a summer palace of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Sarsang and an airfield, reporters there said.

At least one villager was killed in the bombings around Metina mountain, according to the private ATV Turkish television channel. Other reports said no one was killed.

Fewer than 500 Iraqi Kurds lived in the villages -- Dergala, Beshila and Shilaza -- and most of them had fled by Thursday. The mountain is about 25 miles east of the border town of Zakho.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees today planned to move 2,000 refugees from camps near the border to safer ones.

A major Turkish operation to flush out guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party entered its seventh day today. Some 35,000 troops backed by tanks and warplanes are participating in the offensive.

The Turks will not leave the area until all the rebels are captured or killed and their bases eliminated, Prime Minister Tansu Ciller said on national television Saturday.

In an interview in Ankara, Turkey, President Suleyman Demirel suggested the occupation could last up to a year.

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