News has just started to hit the wires that Turkey has invaded northern Iraq, at 7 pm last night chasing down Kurdish PKKof 10,000 plus troops followed a barrage of attacks by Turkish warplanes and heavy artillery. (Pics today from NTV)
In Baghdad, the foreign ministry said it was unaware of any invasion, but Ankara said its troops in its surprise attack were supported by fighter jets, and would leave Iraq when their objectives were achieved.
Private NTV television reported 10,000 troops were involved and said they had pushed about six miles into Iraqi territory and were anxious to make a major and surprise blow before the snow melts and the guerillas mount a spring advance into Turkey to attack Turkish troops. .
The United States described the invasion as "not the greatest news." "A land operation is a whole new level," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told reporters in Brussels.
The Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, has bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, from where it has launched a series of attacks inside Turkey in pursuit of a Kurdish homeland. Turkey has regularly mounted aerial attacks and small-scale commando raids on PKK positions in Iraq. This however is the first time it has sent a significant force into Iraq.
The PKK is outlawed in Iraq, and is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
This invasion was predicted in Canadian Spectator in 2003 before the illegal invasion. It just took a bit longer than expected. Pic Abdullah Ocalan PKK leader see Kurdish Information Network
The White House said the United States had been informed in advance of the incursion and urged Turkey to limit the operation to "precise targeting" of the PKK rebels hiding there. It is however not clear what, if any, role the United States played in the invasion. The European Union also urged Ankara to keep the campaign limited.
"We understand the concerns of Turkey ... but we think this action is not the best response," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told a news conference in Slovenia.
Hoshiyar Zebari Iraq's foreign minister said . "There has not been any major incursion or land invasion ... What is going on is around a few hundred Turkish forces have crossed the border looking for the PKK or their bases,"
A senior military officer with U.S.-led coalition forces based in Baghdad made a similiar comment about the force size.
Earlier, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, director of MNF-I's Communication Division for Operation Iraqi Freedom , said the operation was understood to be of "limited duration" and aimed solely at PKK fighters in the area.
Turkey has of course made Dubya happy by recognising his gangster outpost in Kosovo as were fellow members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Albania and Afghanistan.
UPDATE : 13.30 EST
Moon of Alabama
Largest Minority Today Turkey Shells Kurdish Iraq: A Sign of Declining US Power? September article Is Israel Secretly Training Kurds in Iraq?
BBC Online September Israelis 'train Kurdish forces'
Fresh Bilge today- who makes the excellent point "Maybe things would be different, if Turkey hadn’t messed with the US by refusing access to Iraq at the last minute."
Rob Hyndman wonders ..."whether Turkey has invaded Iraq only ostensibly to suppress PKK activity, and is actually motivated by fear that the Kosovar independence declaration will fuel Kurdish appetite for, and the legitimacy of, an independent state in Northern Iraq."
NYT Turkish Military Tells of Incursion Into Iraq