ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey said Tuesday it had given instructions to prepare for a possible cross-border military operation into Iraq to chase separatist Kurdish rebels.
"Institutions concerned have been given the necessary orders and instructions to make all kinds of legal, economic and political preparations to end the presence of the terror organization in a neighboring country in the upcoming period, including if necessary a cross-border operation," said a statement released at the end of a high-level security meeting chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The meeting between Erdogan, his ministers and top officials in charge of security came as Turkey's military pressed ahead with a major offensive — backed by airpower — to crack down on separatist Kurdish rebels in areas close to the border with Iraq.
Kurdish rebels have killed 15 soldiers in separate attacks in the past two days, increasing anger in the country over the insurgents' ability to find refuge in neighboring Iraq.
The military said Sunday it shelled an area near Iraq to try to stop rebels from escaping across the border.
Turkey has been pressuring Iraq and the United States to clamp down on the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, and has considered a military operation across the border to stamp out the guerrillas.