ANKARA,(Reuters) - Turkey has ended its cross-border offensive against Turkey's Kurdish PKK rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan region and already begun withdrawing troops, the Turkish NTV news channel reported Friday.
There was no immediate official confirmation of the report, which said the incursion, launched just over a week ago, had ended at midnight Thursday.
Some Turkish troops have returned to bases in Turkey after completing their mission in Iraqi Kurdistan,www.ekurd.net but no full withdrawal has begun, a senior Turkish military source said on Friday.
Turkey has come under growing US and Iraqi pressure in recent days to withdraw from Kurdistan region, amid concerns that its military operation might escalate into a broader conflict with Turkish Kurdish PKK group.
Many empty military vehicles were seen passing through the Turkish border town of Cukurca, heading towards Iraqi Kurdistan -- presumably to pick up soldiers -- said NTV, which is one of Turkey's largest private television channels.
Turkish warplanes bombed positions of the Turkey's rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Kurdistan 'northern Iraq' overnight, but the situation was quiet on the ground Friday morning, it added.
Turkish troops rolled into northern Iraq on February 21 to crack down on estimated 4,000 PKK rebels,www.ekurd.net who have long taken refuge in the region and used it as a springboard for attacks across the border as part of their separatist campaign for self-rule in southeast Turkey.
US pressure on Turkey to wrap up the operation mounted Thursday as President George W. Bush said its forces should pull out "as quickly as possible" and Defence Secretary Robert Gates personally conveyed the US message to Turkish leaders in a series of talks in Ankara.
The incursion should be "limited and... temporary in nature," Bush said in Washington.
The Turkish military should "move quickly, achieve their objective and then get out... as quickly as possible," he added.
Ankara on Thursday had refused to commit itself to a pullout timetable.
"Turkey will remain in northern Iraq as long as necessary" and the troops will return home once PKK hideouts are destroyed, Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul said after talks with Gates.
Army chief Yasar Buyuklanit said: "A short time is a relative term. Sometimes this can mean one day and sometimes one year."
The Turkish army says its has killed at least 237 militants and destroyed dozens of PKK hideouts, logistical bases and ammunition depots.
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