Turkish President Abdullah Gul reaffirmed on Sunday Turkey's readiness and right to intervene in northern Iraq a day after the Turkish army said it had carried out an operation there against Kurdish rebels.
Kurdish officials in Iraq insisted on Sunday that there had been no Turkish military incursion, describing as baseless Ankara's claims that significant losses had been inflicted on Kurdish rebels.
"(The army) was granted a mandate. This mandate is being used when (the army) deems it necessary," Gul told reporters before flying to Pakistan for an official visit.
Turkey said it carried out an "intense intervention" against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in northern Iraq on Saturday, sending in special forces after the cabinet authorised the army to carry out cross-border operations.
The army said two PKK rebels had been killed in clashes in southeastern Turkey on Saturday. Two more rebels were killed in clashes with troops in Siirt province on Sunday.
Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek made clear that operations in northern Iraq would continue as the army saw fit.
"The Chief of General Staff decides and will decide the necessity and timing of (the operations). If the goal is met with one operation, then one operation will be done. If 10 operations are needed, then 10 operations will be done," he said in an interview with broadcaster Kanal 24.
A Turkish military official said about 100 special forces troops had crossed into Iraq on Saturday and that long-range artillery and up to six helicopters had bombed a PKK camp after spotting a group of 50-60 rebels 20 km (12 miles) inside the border.
But Jabbar Yawar, a spokesman for Kurdistan's Peshmerga security forces in Iraq, said there had been no incursion or shelling by Turkish forces into northern Iraq. He also said there were no casualties in the area.
A PKK official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq that the Turkish military's claims were "lies and false allegations".
Ankara has massed up to 100,000 troops backed by tanks, artillery and warplanes near the mountainous border with northern Iraq ahead of a long-awaited strike against Kurdish rebels who use bases in Iraq to launch attacks in Turkey.
On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the cabinet had authorised the armed forces to conduct a cross-border operation.
Ankara has made many threats of military action but, under heavy U.S. pressure, has so far shown restraint.
A senior military official based in southeastern Turkey told Reuters that weather conditions at the border were not suitable for a large land offensive.
"Winter conditions do not allow for a broad land offensive. Future operations will probably be limited to air-strikes and artillery bombardment," the official said.
Washington fears a major attack would create chaos in Iraq's most stable region and possibly further afield.
About 3,000 PKK rebels, seeking a separate Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey, operate in northern Iraq. Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began its armed struggle in 1984.