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U.S. Troops to Use Bases in Turkey

Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, Defense Department officials said Sunday.

Obama administration officials have urged the Turkish government to play a more significant role in fighting the extremists who have seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and driven refugees into Turkey.

An American military team will arrive in Turkey this week to work out details of the training program and discuss what kind of missions can be flown from the Turkish bases, administration officials said.

The basing and training agreement follows two days of talks in Ankara, the Turkish capital, between the authorities there and John R. Allen, the retired American general who is coordinating the coalition's response to the Islamic State. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has been traveling in South America, has said the United States has sought access to Turkish air bases, including one at Incirlik in southern Turkey.

The initial breakthrough with Turkey came as three suicide bombers attacked a government center in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad, killing 60 people and wounding more than 120, officials said. Many of the victims were people who had sought refuge in the district, Qara Taba, after fleeing violence elsewhere in the country, officials said. They had gathered at the government center to collect subsidies for displaced people.

Earlier in the day, the police chief of Anbar Province in western Iraq was killed when two bombs planted along a rural road were detonated as his convoy drove by, officials said. Anbar officials said the death of the chief, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Saddag, was a setback to the efforts of the Iraqi security forces to wrest full control of the province from the jihadist insurgency called the Islamic State.

Iraqi forces have been struggling to push the Islamic State fighters from territory they captured this year. The group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, first made inroads in Iraq at the beginning of the year when it swept from Syria into Anbar Province and quickly seized control of territory throughout the Euphrates River valley, from the Syrian border to the rural western suburbs of the Baghdad area.

In June, another wave of fighters poured across the Syrian border into northern Iraq, quickly overwhelming Iraqi security forces in the city of Mosul. They have since expanded their control across areas of northern and central Iraq.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, President Obama's top military adviser, said Sunday that no circumstances had yet arisen that warranted recommending the limited use of American ground troops as advisers in combat conditions. But, during an interview on ABC's "This Week," he added, "There will be circumstances when the answer to that question will likely be yes."

He went on to suggest that a counterattack to retake Mosul in the north might require such "a different kind of advising and assisting."

The three-pronged attack Sunday in Qara Taba, northeast of Baquba near the Iranian border, targeted the mayor's office, a building used by the internal security service of the Kurdistan regional government and an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the main Kurdish political parties, according to Rudaw, a Kurdish news agency.

The first of three bombers set off his explosives at the compound's gates. He was quickly followed by two other attackers driving cars loaded with explosives, which were detonated at the compound's entrance, officials said. Qara Taba is close to Jalawla, where Islamic State fighters have been battling Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters. Among the dead were 15 Kurdish fighters, Rudaw reported.

The attack that killed General Saddag in Anbar occurred in Albu Risha, west of Ramadi, the provincial capital. Three of General Saddag's bodyguards were also killed, said a staff member of a provincial council member, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

[Source: By Eric Schmitt and Kirk Semple, The New York Times, 12Oct14]

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