Turkish tank on Syria border / Unknown
Turkey's Parliament has overwhelmingly approved the extension of an already existing mandate to use Turkish soldiers in Iraq and Syria.
The mandate, which was approved by parliament in October 2014 and renewed in 2015, has been extended for another year.
Using the existing mandate Turkey launched the 'Euphrates Shield Operation' inside Syria on 24 August. Although the military operation alongside Free Syrian Army groups was billed as targeting Islamic State (IS) jihadists, most of the attacks have been against Kurdish forces within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and People's Protection Units (YPG).
Ankara also has troops outside Bashiqa Camp near IS-controlled Mosul, where it is training Iraqi fighters. Both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have asked Turkey to remove their troops, saying Turkey is violating sovereignty and meddling in internal affairs.
The bill for the mandate extension passed easily today with support from the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The left-wing pro-autonomy Peoples' Democratic Party was the only party that voted against the bill.
HDP parliamentarians also protested and refused to stand up when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan entered Parliament to make the opening speech of the new Parliamentary year. HDP Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were not present either.
In his speech Erdogan criticised both the US and EU.
Erdogan said there was an "inconsistency" in the US policy with "part of the US administration working with the (YPG) and part working on policies more sensitive to our interests".
On the EU Erdogan said, "It looks like the EU isn't going to keep its word regarding visa-free travel... They have kept us waiting at the door for 53 years... We don't have an issue with EU criteria, human rights and rule of law. If the EU is going to make us a full member then we are ready. We have come to the end of the game, they should know this. The choice of whether they want to continue with or without Turkey is theirs."
Also speaking at the opening, Turkey Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar commented on the operation to liberate Raqqa and said, We will not be involved in the Raqqa operation if there is collaboration with PYD/YPG."
The mandate for troops will run until 30 October 2017.
Source: AFP, Kurdishquestion.com
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