It also could take steps to prevent creation of a Kurdish state on Syrian territory that would be dominated by an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union all regard as a terrorist group. Ignoring Turkey’s public warnings, Assad has turned control of most of the Kurd-dominated territory in northeastern Syria to the United Workers’ Party, an offshoot of the PKK.
Erdogan previously announced that Turkish forces, using tracking radar, had immediately attacked the Syrian military positions believed to have fired the shells late Wednesday afternoon. Witnesses in Akcakale said the Turkish response resumed in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Turkish news media reported that Erdogan for several weeks had been weighing a plan to seek blanket parliamentary approval for expanded military operations in neighboring countries. One reason may be a big offensive against Turkish civilians by PKK operatives since July, said to have their command and control in Syria.
After emergency consultations with the Turkish military’s chief of staff and his deputy Wednesday night, Erdogan prepared a draft motion, which Parliament approved 320-129 after a closed five-hour session Thursday. Although the preamble of the motion referred to Syria, the actual motion approves Turkish military deployments over the next year to unspecified “foreign countries.”
It said Syrian armed forces had been carrying out assaults against Turkey since Sept. 20, despite Turkish warnings and diplomatic efforts, and these “acts of aggression” were now “at the brink of an armed attack.”
Citing “serious threats and risks to our national security,” Erdogan asked for permission to deploy Turkish armed forces “to foreign countries,” with the limits, scope, magnitude and timing to be determined by the government.
Deputy Prime Minister Atalay said this was “not a war resolution.” He said it “is a resolution that we have at our disposal to protect our own interests, to use if needed in any possible future developments.”
Another resolution under consideration would authorize military operations in Iraq, which in recent days has rejected future deployments of Turkish troops to that country’s largely autonomous Kurdistan region, where they are based to facilitate Turkish military assaults on PKK sanctuaries in Iraq.
Jonathan S. Landay in Washington and McClatchy special correspondent Joel Thomas in Istanbul contributed.