SIRNAK, Turkey – Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions of Kurdish rebels near Iraq on Wednesday, a possible prelude to a cross-border operation that would likely raise tensions with Washington.
The military offensive also reportedly included shelling of Turkish Kurd guerrilla hideouts in northern Iraq, which is predominantly Kurdish. U.S. officials are already preoccupied with efforts to stabilize other areas of Iraq and oppose Turkish intervention in the relatively peaceful north.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that preparations were under way for parliamentary authorization of a cross-border operation, and told private CNN-Turk TV that the motion might reach parliament today. The preparations “have started and are continuing,” he said. An opposition nationalist party said it would support the proposal.
If parliament approves, the military could choose to launch an operation immediately or wait to see if the United States and its allies decide to crack down on the rebels, who have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.