Turkey extends mandate to send troops to Syria if needed

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 03, 2015 5:43 PM

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's parliament voted late on Thursday to extend by a year a mandate authorizing the deployment of troops to Syria and Iraq, weeks after it stepped up its role in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

The NATO member opened its air bases to coalition fighter jets in July and has since taken part in joint strikes for the first time on the radical Sunni militant group in northern Syria, ending years of reluctance to take a front-line role.

While it has the second-largest military land force in NATO, Turkey has repeatedly made clear it does not intend to send ground troops into Syria unless provoked by a clear threat to its national security.

It has been working with Washington on plans to flush Islamic State out of a strip of territory on the Syrian side of the border by jointly providing air cover for U.S.-trained Syrian rebel fighters on the ground.

Also in July, Turkey launched air strikes on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) camps in northern Iraq in response to what it said was an escalation in attacks on its security forces by the Kurdish militant group.

The parliamentary motion had been widely expected to pass despite resistance from the pro-Kurdish opposition.

(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Nick Tattersall)