ANKARA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's ongoing cross-border ground operation against the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK)is likely to last till the army destroys the terrorist group's command center and bases in the Kandil Mountains located on the Iran-Iraq border, local newspaper Today's Zaman (Time) reported on Tuesday.
The operation began late on Thursday and so far troops, backed by helicopter gunships and jet fighters, have penetrated 20 km into the Iraqi territory, attacking PKK camps in the area.
Ongoing assaults in the Zakho and Hakurk regions are expected to last three or four more days, following which the campaign will focus on the Kandil Mountains area, located about 100 km from Turkish territory, according to the report.
Turkish officials have declined to comment on how long the operation could continue, noting only that it will end as soon as the planned goals are achieved.
The ground offensive came after the Turkish government assured Baghdad and Washington that the operation targets solely the PKK.
The United States, which earlier expressed strong reservations about a land offensive into northern Iraq fearing that this would destabilize the region, appeared to be condoning the ongoing operation, although it warned it should be limited in time and scope.
Turkey's military said on Monday that 41 PKK militants and two Turkish troops were killed in the latest fighting.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the General Staff said that Monday's clashes have brought the guerrilla death toll to 153since the beginning of the cross-border operations.
The General Staff added that fierce clashes with PKK terrorists continue in two separate locations.
According to the Turkish General Staff, a group of Turkish troops returned to Turkey and have been replaced by new groups of Turkish soldiers.
Turkish air force conducted night flights to locate the areas where PKK terrorists are running away from, said the General Staff.
The PKK, listed by the United States and Turkey as a terrorist group, took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast of the country. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the over-two-decade conflict.