Turkish military fires on Kurdish rebels inside Iraq

.ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) – The Turkish military said Saturday it attacked 50 to 60 Kurdish rebels inside Iraqi territory, inflicting “significant losses.”

It did not say whether Turkish troops had crossed into Iraq for the operation. The U.S. military said it had no reports of a Turkish incursion across the Iraqi border.

A spokesman for the local Iraqi Kurdistan government and an official from the Kurdish rebel group both denied there had been an attack. But a pro-Kurdish news agency said there had been shelling.

The military said on its Web site that the rebels were detected following intelligence work and that military operations in the region would continue if necessary.

The attack came a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the government had authorized the military to launch a cross-border offensive against guerillas from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, based in northern Iraq at any time.

“There was an intensified operation against the mentioned terrorists using fire support vehicles,” the statement said. “The terrorist group suffered significant losses as a result of the operation,” it added.

“If necessary, there will be other operations in the region using other means.”

The Turkish military did not say whether it conducted Saturday’s operation with American intelligence – something President Bush has promised Turkey.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Saturday the Americans were “working hard” to deliver on that promise.