Turkey sent hundreds of troops across the Iraqi border today to battle Kurdish separatists, the first large-scale ground incursion since tensions rose in the fall, Reuters reports. About 300 lightly armed troops arrived in a semi-autonomous mountainous region, Iraqi officials said. Ankara had no immediate comment on the operation, which follows a series of air raids in Kurdish Iraqi territory this weekend.
The sortie comes as Condoleezza Rice arrives in Kurdish Iraq on a visit. Washington has expressed its sympathy with Turkish claims that Kurdish separatists are destabilizing the country, but it is trying to dissuade the Turkish military from any operations that would further harm Iraq. Although tensions remain high in the border region, a winter invasion of northern Iraq is highly unlikely.