Turkish Troops to Remain in Syria, Iraq for Another Year

Published September 24th, 2017 - 08:04 GMT
Turkish troops on Syrian grounds (AFP/File Photo)
Turkish troops on Syrian grounds (AFP/File Photo)

 

  • Turkey has approved a one-year extension of a mandate to station troops in Syria and Iraq, two days before Iraq's Kurdish region is due to hold its independence referendum.
  • Defense Minister Murettin Canikli stated the decision was made to protect Turkey from the Kurdish independence vote, which was a "threat to national security".
  • This will allow Turkey's military to intervene in Syria and Iraq against Kurdish militias and ISIS.
  • Iraq's chief of staff General Othman al-Ghanimi met with his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar in Ankara on Saturday to discuss the referendum.

 

The Turkish parliament approved a one-year extension of a mandate to use troops abroad in Syria and Iraq on Saturday, two days before Iraq's Kurdish region is due to hold a controversial independence referendum.

Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said the extension, which was overwhelmingly passed, was intended to protect Turkey from "threats", noting that the Kurdish Regional Government's planned vote on Monday was a "threat to national security".

It allows Turkey's military to intervene in its two southern neighbors - Syria and Iraq - against Kurdish militias and ISIS.

Ankara has repeatedly warned Erbil of the "heavy cost" of the poll, while Iraq, Iran and the United States have urged the KRG against the non-binding September 25 vote.

Canikli said the vote demonstrated "an abdication of reason" and Turkey viewed any referendum like this as "null and void".

"We are taking the necessary measures and will continue to do so," he added.

It came hours before Prime Minister Binali Yildirim threatened Iraqi-Kurdistan with "economic and security dimensions" if it goes ahead with its controversial referendum for independence.

Yildirim hinted at possible military action by Ankara, as Iraqi-Kurdish President Massoud Barzani pledged to go ahead with the vote on Monday.

When asked whether a cross-border operation was among the options, Yildirim said "naturally" but "it is a question of timing as to when the security, economic and political options will be applied".

 

 

The mandate, first approved by parliament in October 2014, has been renewed every year since then.

It allows military action in Turkey's two southern neighbors against ISIS extremists and other groups deemed by Ankara to be terror organizations.

Parliament had been due to return from the summer break on October 1.

On Monday, the Turkish army began a military drill close to the Iraqi border and on Saturday, the armed forces said the "exercise continued with the participation of additional troops".

Meanwhile, Turkey with Iran and Russia agreed this month "to allocate" their forces to patrol the zone covering rebel-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria and parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions to ease the six-year conflict.

Previously Turkey launched an operation in Syria in August 2016 to support Syrian opposition fighters against IS jihadists and a Kurdish militia, which ended in March.

On Saturday, Iraq's chief of staff General Othman al-Ghanimi met with his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar in Ankara to discuss the "illegitimate" referendum among other issues, the Turkish military said.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani delayed a scheduled news conference on the referendum as international pressure mounts for a postponement.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


Copyright @ 2021 The New Arab.

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