Parliament renewed Oct. 3 the government’s authorization to send troops into Syria after a tense session in which the opposition parties fiercely criticized the ruling party’s interventionist foreign policy and tolerance for the appearance of al-Qaeda-linked groups on Turkey’s border.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted in favor of the motion, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) voted against the motion.
“What we want is not war but to stop ongoing war,” Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said in his address to Parliament before the vote. “All sorts of precautions for the security of our country and people are being taken within the frame of new rules of engagement and in the face security risks posed from Syria.”
Recalling that Turkish jets downed a Syrian helicopter that violated Turkish airspace on Sept. 16, Yılmaz said Turkey would not hesitate to use its rights flowing from international law if such violations re-occur.
The Turkish Parliament had authorized the government to stage cross-border actions against Syria last year after a Turkish reconnaissance jet was downed by Syrian security forces on June 22 and after a number of Turkish citizens were killed by bullets and shells coming from across the Syrian border.
The motion was extended primarily because of Damascus’ alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in an attack that killed more than 1,400 civilians, the potential influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey and the killings of at least 71 Turkish citizens so far due to unrest in the Arab republic.