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Kurdish Aid Workers Allowed Into Turkey

September 16, 1996| Times Wire Services

ZAKHU, Iraq — Hundreds of Kurds who worked for U.S. aid groups in northern Iraq safely left the country and crossed into Turkey on Sunday. Many more were expected to follow soon.

Carrying small children, suitcases and duffel bags, the Kurds walked across the bridge separating northern Iraq and Turkey en route to a refugee camp nearby.

At least 500 Iraqi Kurds crossed the border. About 2,000 who fear reprisals from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein because of their connections to the United States were expected to leave in the next few days, officials said. Some are believed to have engaged in intelligence activities for the U.S.

Their final destination was not announced, but many want to go to the United States.

The area in which they arrived was guarded by soldiers in armored personnel carriers, and the refugees were met by representatives of the Turkish Red Crescent and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The refugees were questioned by Turkish and U.S. authorities in five tents set up on a soccer field. Turkish officials at the border said they believed the refugees would be put on buses to the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir.

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