CIZRE, Turkey – It's a spectacularly beautiful corner of the world. The canvas has a sandy-bronze backdrop of mountains on the Iraq and Syrian border. Tufts of tawny grass populate the foreground, backed by fields of cotton, orchards, and vineyards.
The only disconcerting sight we see as we drive along the headwaters of the Tigris here in southern Turkey towards the Iraq border, is a scattering of tanks under camouflage. We stop on the road's shoulder when we see a platoon of Turkish soldiers being ordered through their paces on a hill below. As our cameraman pushed in for a tight shot, another three cars pulled up and still photographers and video shooters piled out. This is our first good glimpse of the Turkish army buildup along the Iraq border.
Since Sunday's ambush of Turkish troops by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party – known by the acronym PKK – a couple of miles from the Iraqi-Turkish border, more troops and artillery have been dispatched to the region.
|VIDEO: Ned Colt reports on the tensions growing along the Turkey-Iraq border|
The message to the estimated 3,000 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq is anything but subtle. Turkey is ready to go in and root them out. It's already been happening – with artillery bombardments and airstrikes.
On Wednesday, the government also acknowledged sending in small numbers of troops to pursue guerrillas over the past couple of days.
'Nothing out of the ordinary'
So far, the mass incursion feared, has not materialized. And on this side of the border, there are few apparent signs of concern. The bazaar in this town remains busy, as does the nearby border crossing into Iraq.
|SLIDESHOW: Cross-border tension|
When we stopped by the border on Tuesday, drivers were brewing tea alongside their trucks. The line stretched for at least two miles. Drivers complained they had been waiting for a week to cross into Iraq but they said that one week was better than the two it used to take. (Apparently the hold-up was mostly due to border bureaucracy).
Back by the roadside, an armored personnel carrier (APC) trundled up to us from where the Turkish soldiers were training. A smiling captain got out, and politely asked us to refrain from our picture-taking.
"This is normal training," he said. "Nothing out of the ordinary."
But as pressure builds on the Turkish government for opposing actions – diplomacy from the international community and military retaliation from protesting Turks – the feeling on this strip of border is anything but ordinary.