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Iran Press TV

Turkish troops will remain in Iraq, Syria for another year

Iran Press TV

Sat Oct 1, 2016 7:13PM

Turkish lawmakers have almost overwhelmingly approved extension by another year of Ankara's cross-border military incursions into Syria and Iraq.

The Turkish parliament on Saturday, the first day of the new legislative year, authorized the government to further hold troops in the two southern neighbors until September 30, 2017, based on a mandate which was first approved by the parliament in October 2014 and was renewed for another year in September 2015.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, also known as the HDP, voted against the bill, while the ruling Justice and Development Party, also called the AKP, the secular opposition Republican People's Party, also known as the CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party, also known as the MHP, supported it.

Ankara claims that these operations are aimed at curbing the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, and to further strengthen pro-Turkey militants fighting against these two groups in Iraq and Syria.

"The extension of the mandate will support the government's ongoing actions to end terror threats permanently and will be a dissuasive factor against terrorist groups Daesh and PKK," Defense Minister Fikri Isik was quoted by the country's state-run Anadolu news agency as saying prior to parliament's voting session.

The minister added that the mandate would enable Ankara to implement all kinds of necessary measures against these groups within the framework of international law.

Using the existing mandate, Ankara, in December 2015, first deployed some 150 soldiers equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks to Bashiqa, located on the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq's Nineveh province and the country's second-largest city, which has been under the control of Daesh since June 2014.

Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh. Baghdad rejected the claim, saying it did not need the Turkish military assistance in the fight.

The Iraqi government condemned the unilateral move, calling it a sheer violation of Iraq's sovereignty. Baghdad even turned to the United Nations Security Council to force Turkey to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq.

Also under the same mandate, Turkish troops, backed by tanks and warplanes, entered the Syrian territory in September in a sudden incursion which resulted in the occupation of Jarablus after Daesh left the city without resistance. Damascus has strongly denounced the incursion, slamming it as a "flagrant breach" of the Syrian sovereignty.

The Turkish claims that it is hitting terrorists in Syria come as Ankara has been accused of supporting anti-Damascus militants inside the Arab country.

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