Turkey extends motion to deploy troops to Syria, northern Iraq

Following a parliamentary vote in October, the Turkish military has today been authorised to deploy troops to northern Iraq and

turkish troops

Photo: AFP

Following a parliamentary vote in October, the Turkish military has today been authorised to deploy troops to northern Iraq and Syria for another year.

The motion, passed every year since 2006, allows Turkey to launch cross-border operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose bases are located in northern Iraq’s Qandil mountains, and the group’s Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controls Kobane in northeast Syria. Both the PKK and YPG officially seek to establish Kurdish autonomy via armed conflict in Turkey and Syria, respectively. While the PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and other countries, only Ankara recognises the YPG as such.

Turkey managed to trap the YPG in Kobane following its October 2019 northern Syria incursion and the enforcement of a jointly-administered Turkish-Russian ‘safe-zone’, but the YPG presence has persisted. Given Turkey’s recent domestic crackdown on Kurdish political figures and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement on Wednesday again claiming Turkey’s ‘right to mobilise’ against the YPG, Ankara is likely eyeing opportunities for a new strike on the group. Turkey’s recent military build-up around the strategically located M4 highway in Syria’s Idlib—where a Russian attack killed dozens of Turkish-backed militias on Monday—further signals a possible operation into Syria.

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