Turkish parliament authorizes cross-border military operations in Syria
Turkey’s parliament has authorized cross-border military operations into Syria ‘when necessary.’ The move follows a cross-border mortar-shelling into Turkey which Damascus has apologized for.
Parliament voted 320-129 in favor of the bill, though the government was quick to eliminate the perception the country is preparing for a unilateral military assault.
“The bill is not for war… It has deterrent qualities,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters after the vote on Thursday.
He stressed that Turkey’s priority was to act in conjunction with “international institutions” on Syria. Atalay further said the Syrian government has admitted what it did and apologized. The deputy premier added that Syria had given its assurances “such an incident would not be repeated.”
The Turkish army has been shelling Syrian military positions since Wednesday in retaliation for shelling conducted from Syrian territory that killed five civilians.
The government-initiated debates in the Turkish parliament took place behind closed doors. The cabinet of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan claimed the Syrian military had launched an act of aggression against Turkey.
MP Muharrem Ince from the opposition Republican People’s party said the motion was dangerous as it had no clearly defined limits.
“You can wage a world war with [this motion],” Hürriyet Daily News cites him as saying.
Ince also lambasted the fact that the session took place behind closed doors.
“Why would you hide this from the people? Will it be your children that go to war? People are not going to know why they have sent their children to war,” he said.
On Wednesday at least three mortar bombs fired from Syria killed five civilians and wounded at least eight in the Turkish town of Akcakale. It was the second such mortar attack on the Turkish town since last Friday. Foreign Minister Davutoglu warned he would take action if there were a repeat in the wake of the shelling.
After a heated debate an urgent parliamentary session has opted to apply the new law.
Originally the bill targeted militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighting for independent Kurd state for the last three decades. The Kurds have bases in northern Iraq, de-facto not controlled by the government in Baghdad. The Turkish military has conducted a number of air and ground assaults on Kurdish positions in Iraq, most of them considered successful.
The debates around the move have sparked sharp negative reaction among the Turkish population. While a small group of anti-war protesters rallied outside the Turkish parliament in Ankara, a real anti-war storm has been initiated by Turkish and foreign activists on social networks both inside and outside of Turkey. The hashtag #savasahayir (no to war) quickly spread beyond Turkish borders into global social networking.
- Turkish Army continues shelling positions in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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