ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq overnight and some 500 soldiers have crossed the border with armored vehicles, military and security sources told Reuters on Tuesday as hostilities between Turkey and Kurdish militants escalated.
The Turkish forces were advancing toward a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) camp at Haftanin, around 20 km (12 miles) from the Habur border post and near the Iraqi city of Zakho.
The sources described it as the busiest military activity along the border since the Turkish army launched cross-border activities last week in response to a PKK attack on Turkish forces which killed 24 soldiers in Hakkari, bordering Iraq.
Warplanes bombed PKK targets at Haftanin and Hakurke, the sources said, who said on Monday tanks and armored vehicles had crossed into northern Iraq. Several hundred PKK fighters were believed to be based at Haftanin.
The remoteness of the camps' locations and the difficult terrain made it difficult to assess how close the Turkish force had moved toward the camps.
On Monday, residents of the village of Dashtatakh in Dahuk province, about 10 km east of Haftanin, reported 200 Turkish soldiers had entered Iraqi territory but left about an hour later.
Turkish air strikes have killed 250 to 270 Kurdish militants, wounded 210 and destroyed many arms stores in northern Iraq since August 17, news broadcaster NTV on Monday quoted armed forces head General Necdet Ozel as saying.
Ankara's reaction to one of the deadliest attacks on its security forces in a conflict that began three decades ago had fueled speculation that Turkey could move to a full-blown incursion to clear out PKK camps deeper inside northern Iraq.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 1984. The United States, the European Union and Turkey designate the PKK as a terrorist organization.
(Writing by Daren Butler, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)