ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's defense minister said Tuesday his country is making preparations for "all kinds of possibilities" after the military began deploying tanks and other vehicles to the border with Iraq.
Fikri Isik said the deployment is in response to "important developments in our region," including events in neighboring Iraq and Turkey's fight against outlawed Kurdish rebels.
"On the one hand there is a serious struggle against terrorism inside Turkey, on the other hand there are important developments on the other side of the border," the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Isik as saying. "Turkey is in the position of making preparations for all kinds of possibilities."
Turkish state media, quoting unnamed military sources, reported that tanks and military vehicles were moving from Ankara and the nearby province of Cankiri toward the border town of Silopi.
The deployment comes days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey would be closely monitoring Shiite militias' behavior in northern Iraq and seeking to safeguard the rights of ethnic Turkmens there. Erdogan said the militia group could prompt a Turkish response if it "terrorizes" the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tal-Afar.
Turkish soldiers wait for a ceremony at the mausoleum of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on Republic Day in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016.
Photo Credit: Burhan Ozbilici/AP
Last week, Erdogan also suggested that Turkey's military could pursue Kurdish rebels across the border into northern Iraq's Sinjar region, which he said was fast becoming a new base for the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
Turkey's air force regularly carries out raids in northern Iraq against targets of the PKK, which has led a three-decade-long insurgency against Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.
Violence between the Turkish security forces and the PKK flared last year following the collapse of a fragile peace process.