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.
Turkey denied a report on Wednesday it had launched a major incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there, but a military source said troops had conducted a limited raid across the mountainous border.
Rumours of an invasion have rattled financial markets amid growing Turkish anger over the activity of Turkish Kurdish rebels using the mountains of northern Iraq as a refuge. Washington has urged caution on Ankara, fearing conflict in what has been one of the most stable areas of Iraq.
More here as more is known.
Update – This follows Monday’s report: US urges Turkey not to attack northern Iraq.
Ignore assurances – those are words, trees. See the forest: if Turkish troops have crossed the border this is very serious.
“There is no incursion into any other country at the moment,” Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday.
Earlier, the DEBKAfile website said 50,000 men had been deployed to the area.
Ankara described the report as “disinformation”.
Hoshiyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, said that there was no evidence that Turkish troops had entered Iraq.
“We have checked all along the border and there hasn’t been any incursion or military operation inside Iraqi territory,” he said.
“Iraq will not tolerate any military incursion. There is always room for dialogue.”
A White House spokesman, in Germany for a G8 summit, also said that “no new activity” had been detected in northern Iraq.
Is this the beginning of an expansion of the Iraq war into a regional conflict?