The Turkish Army chief of staff said Thursday it was necessary to carry out a military operation against Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq.
Gen. Yasr Buyukanit said the Turkish Army was currently conducting large-scale operations in different parts of southeast Turkey against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), adding that 13 Turkish servicemen had been killed in action against the separatists so far this year.
"If Turkey starts an Army operation on Kurdish soil, it would be treated as a direct declaration of war on Iraq as a whole," said Kemal Kerkuki, deputy parliament speaker of the Kurdish parliament, according to ANKA news agency.
The Turkish military may soon launch a three-month cross-border operation against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, the weekly Tempo quoted the general as saying Friday.
According to the weekly, the Turkish Army is not planning to conduct large-scale operations in northern Iraq, but will deliver "pinpoint strikes" against PKK bases.
"Troops will be airlifted to operation areas for a day and after effectively engaging pre-planned targets will be airlifted back to base," it said.
The paper quoted sources in the Democratic Party of Kurdistan and military experts as saying that in the lead-up to the operation, the Turkish Army is planning to establish a "buffer zone" along the border with Iraq to prevent infiltration of Kurdish militants into Turkey.
A similar zone is to be set up on Iraqi territory.
"An operation in North Iraq is imperative. It requires political will," General Yasr Buyukanit said Thursday, adding that the Turkish Army had evidence the PKK plans to intensify terrorist activity in Turkey.
He said terrorism is one of the principal threats facing Turkey.
The Turkish chief of staff denied reports that a group of senior Army officers were plotting to overthrow the Tayyip Erdogan government.
"We have no evidence confirming the media reports [about an imminent coup]," he said.
Prime Minister Erdogan said Ankara insisted Iraq meet its demand to crack down on Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq.
Over 37,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Turkey and the PKK, which has been fighting for a so-called independent Kurdistan in the southeast of the country since 1984.
Turkish authorities are categorically refusing to open a dialogue with the separatists, and are determined to use force to eliminate the PKK.