Turkish artillery shelled suspected Kurdish rebel targets across the Iraqi border Thursday, an Iraqi Army officer said.
NTV television, citing Iraqi Kurdish officials, said Turkish warplanes also attacked rebel positions in northern Iraq. But Turkish authorities did not immediately confirm the reports.
The Iraqi Army officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to release the information, said Turkish shelling hit several villages in Sedafan area, some 30 kilometres(20 miles) away from the Turkish border.
Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gul, other government officials and military brass convened in the Turkish capital, Ankara, for a bimonthly meeting on national security to discuss the fight against the Kurdish rebels.
A ground operation against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, hiding in Iraq remained an option, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Tuesday. The timing of any operation would depend on weather, he said.
During winter, cold and snowy weather makes it extremely difficult for military vehicles and personnel to move along the rugged and mountainous border with Iraq. Likewise, PKK attacks are rare in harsh weather, but a surge in clashes typically follow the melting of snow in spring.
A convoy of some 50 military vehicles carried special forces to areas close to border in the south-eastern province of Hakkari late on Wednesday, private news agency Dogan reported on Thursday.
Military helicopters were combing the area and two Turkish warplanes were seen flying toward northern Iraq on Thursday, but it was not clear whether they were on a bombing mission.
Turkey has confirmed a total of five aerial attacks inside Iraq since Dec 16 against the rebels.
The aerial assaults were part of a US-backed campaign to chip away at guerrilla strength. But Washington has cautioned Turkey not to stage a ground operation that could increase tensions with Iraqi Kurd leaders, who are allied with US troops in Iraq, and destabilise a relatively peaceful part of the country.
Turkey has staged ground incursions against Turkish Kurd rebels in northern Iraq in past years. The rebels, who seek autonomy for the mostly Kurdish population in south-eastern Turkey, have launched attacks into Turkish territory from bases in northern Iraq. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the decades-old fighting.