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Turkey extends troop deployment mandate in Iraq and Syria

Turkish Armed Forces in northern Syria [File photo]
Turkish Armed Forces in northern Syria [Anadolu Agency]

Turkey's parliament voted on Saturday to extend by a year a mandate authorising the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria, stepping up pressure against an independence referendum in northern Iraq's Kurdish region in two days' time.

The parliamentary motion, which was submitted by Binali Yildirim's Justice and Development (AK) Party government, had previously allowed the Turkish military to carry out cross-border operations from 2 October 2016 until 31 October 2017.

The motion stated: "The existence of PKK and Daesh in Iraq, poses a direct threat to regional peace, stability and the security of our country."

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey would take security, economic and political steps in response to the referendum, which President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman described as a "terrible mistake" that would trigger new regional crises.

The United States and other Western powers have, like Turkey, urged authorities in the semi-autonomous Iraqi region to cancel Monday's vote. They say the move by the oil-producing area distracts from the fight against Daesh.

Read: Iraq, Turkey, Iran to coordinate countermeasures to Kurdistan referendum

In Iraq, a Kurdistan regional government delegation arrived in Baghdad for talks with the Iraqi government in an effort to defuse tensions, but a senior Kurdish official said the vote was going ahead.

"The delegation will discuss the referendum but the referendum is still happening," Hoshiyar Zebari, a top adviser to Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, told Reuters.

Turkey, which has NATO's second-largest army, said on Friday that the Iraqi vote would threaten its security and force it to slap sanctions on a neighbour and trading partner, although it did not specify what measures it might take.

#WarInSyria

Asked on Saturday if a cross-border operation was among the options, Yildirim told reporters: "Naturally, it is a question of timing as to when security, economic and security options are implemented. Developing conditions will determine that."

The mandate approved by Turkey's parliament on Saturday was first passed in 2014 with the aim of tackling threats from within its southern neighbours Iraq and Syria. It had been due to expire in October.

UN chief: Northern Iraq vote would detract from Daesh fight

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Europe & RussiaIraqMiddle EastNewsSyriaTurkey
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