Turkey has sent 10,000 troops over the border into northern Iraq to hunt down militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, marking the first major ground incursion into the country since 1997, reports Bloomberg. The Turkish military said that the action began last evening, and local television is reporting that the troops are up to 6 miles inside Iraqi territory. The ground assault "is not the greatest news," said a US State Department official.
The incursion represents a major escalation in the conflict. Although Ankara authorized military action last October to combat the Kurdish separatist movement, until yesterday the Turks have only executed air strikes and a few "hot pursuits" in which small battalions spend hours in Iraqi territory. The US has tried to dissuade Turkey from entering Iraq, but it has also furnished Turkey with intelligence to target militant cells.