Turkey's top commander said Thursday that the armed forces would need directives from the government for an operation into northern Iraq, TV news reported, after Turkey declared several areas near the border as "temporary security zones."
"The Turkish soldier is not a bully of the neighborhood," private NTV and CNN-Turk television quoted Gen. Yasar Buyukanit as saying. "There is need for political directives."
Buyukanit has asked the government to seek parliamentary authorization for the military to stage a cross-border offensive against Kurdish militants who attack from bases in Iraq, but the government has not acted so far.
A Turkish military buildup on the Iraqi border has been growing, and Ankara declared the new security zones on Wednesday, the same day Turkish security officials and an Iraqi Kurdish official said hundreds of Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas. Turkey's foreign minister denied there was a cross-border operation.