ANKARA: Turkey’s Parliament voted Thursday to extend by a year a mandate authorizing the deployment of troops to Syria if needed after the government said the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad posed a threat to Turkey.
Turkey, one of Assad’s fiercest critics, has advocated military intervention in Syria and has grown frustrated over what it sees as Western indecisiveness.
“The present risk and threats have not decreased; on the contrary, they have increased,” Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz told Parliament before the vote.
While it has the second-largest military land force in NATO, Turkey would be unlikely to act alone in any military operation, with public opinion largely against intervention.
The motion, put forward by the ruling AK Party, which has a strong parliamentary majority, had been widely expected to pass despite stiff resistance from opposition parties. The current mandate expires Friday.
Individual vote results were not made public, but Turkey’s third-largest party, the Nationalist Movement Party had voiced support for the motion. The main opposition Republican People’s Party and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party had said they would oppose the bill.
Turkey, which shares a 900 km border with Syria, has seen the conflict frequently spill across its frontier and has responded in kind when mortar bombs and shells fired from Syria have hit its soil, in some cases killing Turkish civilians.