ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.
Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.
"It is not a major offensive and the number of troops is not in the tens of thousands," one of the officials told the AP by telephone. The official is based in southeast Turkey, where the military has been battling separatist Kurdish rebels since they took up arms in 1984.
The U.S. military said it could not confirm the reports but was "very concerned."
The last major Turkish incursion into northern Iraq was in 1997, when about 50,000 troops were sent to the region.
The officials did not say where the Turkish force was operating in northern Iraq, nor did he say how long they would be there. Both officials are involved in anti-rebel operations, though they did not disclose whether they participated in the planning of the operation on Wednesday.
The officials said any confrontation with Iraqi Kurdish groups, who have warned against a Turkish incursion, could trigger a larger cross- border operation. The Turkish military has asked the government in Ankara to approve such an incursion, but the government has not given formal approval.
Expect Kindasleazy Rice to say in 3, 2, 1: "No one could have anticipated that Turkey would do such a thing without informing their allies in Europe and the United States first."
Actually, I think this is Turkey's way of expressing to Washington that they are serious. Should Washington ignore this "surge" Turkey will most likely take that as a positive sign (a la Hussein into Kuwait in 1990) and make a large scale attack. Will Washington bungle this obvious sign? Probably. They've bungled much more obvious signs in Iraq, Iran, Korea, the U.S., Russia, etc.