Nearly 10,000 Turkish soldiers were deployed to southeastern Turkey and across the Iraq border on Thursday, carrying out ground and air offenses against rebels.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul described the military offensive as “retribution to the PKK-lead attack that left at least 24 Turkish soldiers dead.”
Officials declined to reveal the exact number of soldiers that have crossed over the Iraq border.
The Turkish government has long been engaged in political disputes against the ethnic Kurds, who lack independent statehood, with an estimated 40,000 perishing since 1980.
The NY Times reports: “The attacks came at a time when the country is drafting a new constitution with greater rights for ethnic minorities. The effort is widely perceived as designed to end Kurdish separatist violence.”
Turkey military officials said there “were sporadic clashes between the troops and PKK rebels between the Turkey-Iraq border.”
It has been reported that the bulk of the Turkish troops are in Iraq and that Turkish warplanes have flown dozens of bombing raids out of a military base in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
“As of now, wide-reaching operations, including hot-pursuit operation, are continuing in the region within the framework of international law,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference in Ankara.
U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the Kurdish attack in a statement issued by the White House.
“The United States will continue our strong cooperation with the Turkish government as it works to defeat the terrorist threat from the P.K.K. and to bring peace, stability, and prosperity to all the people of southeast Turkey,” President Obama said.
Read more at the Global Post.