A motion extending the mandate of the Turkish Armed Forces to conduct military operations in Iraq and Syria for another year was approved by the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s vote came at a time when Turkey is preparing to launch a long-threatened military operation in northeast Syria to remove Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” in which to resettle millions of Syrian refugees.
While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the İYİ Party voted in favor of the motion, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) cast a nay vote during the parliamentary session.
The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, effectively abandoning the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group.
The SDF, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), has denounced Washington’s move as a “stab in the back.”
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group, claiming that it has links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The motion authorizing the government to launch military incursions into Iraq was first adopted in 2007. In 2014 the motion was extended to include Syria for possible operations against ISIL and other groups, and it has been extended annually for the period of a year since then.
Turkey’s plans to launch a military operation in northern Syria have alarmed the United Nations, the European Union and other world powers, which warned that any military action could exacerbate the suffering of Syrians already beleaguered by eight years of conflict.