Official peace dawned on Iraq Friday as the formal U.N. cease-fire took effect at 4 p.m. MDT Thursday.
Hours before the cease-fire took effect, Iraqi troops attacked Kurdish rebels inside a U.S.-protected zone in northern Iraq, and refugees in an American-occupied section of the south threatened to sit in front of tanks to prevent U.S. troops from leaving.The first of 1,440 U.N. peacekeeping troops arrived Friday in the Middle East. A plane carrying a contingent of the troops landed in Amman, Jordan, for refueling, then took off for Kuwait, where the force will begin replacing allied soldiers along the emirate's 120-mile border with Iraq.
The 32-nation force will maintain a demilitarized zone six miles into Iraq and nearly four miles into Kuwait, but many Iraqi refugees in the south fear for their well-being when U.S. forces depart.
Scores of Iraqis claiming to be soldiers rushed to surrender to U.S. troops Thursday in the last hours of the war, fearing savage reprisals from Saddam's troops. Others have threatened to sit in front of American tanks to stop them from leaving, a refugee leader said.
In a Turkish refugee camp near the Iraqi border, meanwhile, 32 more Kurdish refugees from Iraq - 23 of them children - died, Turkish media reported Friday. Thousands of Kurds are believed to have died from exposure and illness since they began fleeing Iraqi troops.
The Iraqi attacks on Kurdish rebels were north of the 36th parallel - 25 miles inside the informal "safe haven" declared this week by U.S. officials. AP correspondent Alex Efty, at the site of the battle near the town of Shaqlawa, said at least 12 Iraqis were killed and two tanks destroyed.
Rebels said scores more Iraqi soldiers were lying dead on the mountain slopes on either side of the road where the battle developed.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Thursday that Iraq should not carry out "any kind of military activity" within the zone. The territory declared off-limits to Iraqi military encompasses about 10 percent of Iraq.
Fitzwater said the zone will be needed for an undetermined number of months during which Western nations would carry out a humanitarian assistance plan. Turkey urged Iraq Friday to develop "a constructive approach" to stem the tide of refugees, and it rejected Baghdad's charges that it was interfering in Iraq's affairs.
The 32 deaths Thursday night at a makeshift Turkish camp in Cukurca township brought the toll in that camp alone to 86 in three days, Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.
Many refugees have died from illnesses aggravated by the lack of food and shelter from the near-freezing, rainy weather. Some have been seen carrying the blanket-covered bodies of relatives who died fleeing through in the rugged, mountainous terrain.
The U.S.-protected zone was designated Thursday as an attempt to shield Kurds from Saddam's troops without giving the ethnic group, which has battled for a homeland for more than 70 years, the basis for a territorial claim.
The Turkish Parliament Friday approved a bill allowing limited use of the Kurdish language in Turkey - the first step toward recognizing the ethnic rights of the estimated 12 million Kurds in Turkey. Use of Kurdish was banned by the former military government in 1983.