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Erdogan: Kurd rebels inside Syria will not be tolerated

Turkey may strike inside Syria if Kurdish rebels gain a foothold there, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

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Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting at his party headquarters in Ankara on July 11, 2012. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey's prime minister has said his country will not "tolerate" a Kurdish-run area in Syria, the Associated Press reported.

The statement was prompted by reports that "Kurdish rebels and a Syrian Kurdish political party" had wrested control of five cities on Turkey's border with Syria, according to the AP.

According to AFP, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syria of allowing Turkish Kurdish rebels to operate in the north of Syria. "No one should attempt to provoke us," Erdogan told reporters, according to the AP. "If a step needs to be taken against the [Kurdistan Worker's Party] we would not hesitate to take it." The party, also known as the PKK, is considered by Turkey and other countries, including the United States, to be a terrorist organization.

Erdogan also suggested that Turkey would strike "terrorist areas" on Syrian soil if it felt it necessary for defense. "That is what we have been doing and will continue to do in Iraq," the prime minister was reported to have said.

Erdogan's comments came a day after Turkey closed its extensive borders with Syria to all traffic, although the government said the closure would not affect the movement of Syrian refugees entering Turkey.

However, the Washington Post pointed out that there are "countless illegal crossings" into Turkey from Syria, used widely by rebels, arms smugglers, and refugees alike.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/turkey/120726/erdogan-kurd-rebels-syria-will-not-be-tolerated