The Turkish Parliament ratified on Thursday a bill that extends the government's authorization to deploy Turkish troops abroad in dealing with contingencies in neighboring Syria, where a two and a half year long civil war rages on. Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz welcomed the bill, saying Turkey would continue to take necessary measures to protect its rights and national interests. "Our government's most important priority is ensuring security for our citizens and our nation. We cannot accept that a single loss of life or injury befalls our people," Yilmaz said. The bill was supported by the ruling AK Party and second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) opposed it.
Minister Yilmaz added that another bill would follow "in a couple of days" to authorize the government for possible action against threats from Iraq, where armed organization Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is based.
The bill on Syria, proposed by the Prime Minister's office on Tuesday, cites the lingering instability and violence in the war-torn country as reason to extend the mandate, which was set to expire on October 4.
The text of the proposal recalls deaths of 71 Turkish nationals in the Syria-originated attacks, the August 21 chemical attack that killed nearly 1,500 people, as well as the long-drawn-out civil war, which the bill says has brought over 500,000 Syrian shelter-seekers to Turkey.
It also makes references to UN resolutions on September 16 and 27 regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"The developments (in Syria) show that the regime has reached a point where it is ready and willing to use every method or weapon that goes against international norms".
"Turkey remains the most vulnerable to attacks of every kind that can be perpetrated by the Syrian regime, as well as the state of uncertainty and chaos within the country," the bill says.