U.S. Plan: Spy In Iraq For Turkish Forces

A Pentagon plan would use reconnaissance aircraft to spy for the Turkish military in its cross-border war against terrorists in northern Iraq, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports exclusively.

Until now the U.S. Military, which has its hands full in other parts of Iraq, has done its best to ignore those terrorists, known as the PKK.

"I don't track the specific locations of the PKK," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq.

He had this to say when asked if he was planning any military operations against the PKK: "Absolutely nothing."

Turkey is already launching air and artillery strikes into northern Iraq, but that has not stopped the PKK from taking eight Turkish soldiers hostage.

Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations warns that if the PKK strikes again, Turkey could send 60,000 to 100,000 troops into northern Iraq.

"We're probably one attack away from this becoming a nightmare scenario," Cook said.

Senior Pentagon officials say reconnaissance aircraft like the Predator would help turkey launch accurate attacks against the PKK without resorting to a full scale invasion.

"U.S. intelligence would help them should they bring in small groups of special forces, helicopter-borne forces to strike directly at those camps, rather than surging tens of thousands of troops across the border," Cook said.

The planning has just begun, but it will be completed by the time Turkey's prime minister meets with President Bush 10 days from now.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.