ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — As Turkey moved heavy weapons to its border with Syria, its foreign minister was expected to urge the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region not to support a Syrian Kurdish party that is allegedly collaborating with Iraq-based Turkish Kurdish rebels, NTV television said Wednesday.
Ahmet Davutoglu's trip to northern Iraq on Wednesday comes as Turkey deployed tanks and anti-aircraft missile launchers on the Syrian border, saying it will not tolerate any move that threatens its security from Syria.
Davutoglu's office said Wednesday that the minister would discuss "regional issues and the struggle against terrorism" with Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region.
For decades, Turkey has complained that Iraqi Kurds were not doing enough to stop Kurdish rebels from using Iraqi soil to fight Turkey for autonomy in the country's Kurdish-dominated southeast. Now, Turkey fears Kurdish rebels are also trying to gain ground in northern Syria as forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad fight the Syrian rebels.
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc on Tuesday expressed concern over the hoisting of a red-yellow-green banner of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK in some Syrian towns.
Turkey had moved anti-aircraft missile batteries to the Syrian border after Syria downed a Turkish reconnaissance jet in June and recently deployed tanks to border areas across Syrian towns, including Qamishli, allegedly held by Kurdish rebels and the Democratic Union Party of Syria, known as the PYD.
"We will never tolerate initiatives that would threaten Turkey's security," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an address to the nation on Tuesday.
Turkish military targeted Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq several times in the past and the government hinted that it would not hesitate to do the same against any rebel hide-out in Syria.
The Kurdish rebels were clashing with Turkish troops in several areas in the country's southeast on Wednesday, reports said. At least two soldiers were killed in a clash near the town of Lice, some 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region.
Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in the fighting since 1984.
Associated Press Writer Irem Karakaya in Ankara contributed to this report.