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Turkey’s main opposition party to vote ‘no’ on government’s cross-border motion

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Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will vote against a parliamentary motion extending the government’s mandate to launch cross-border military operations in northern Iraq and Syria, a senior party official announced on Tuesday.

The Turkish Parliament will this week debate extending a motion authorizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to launch cross-border military operations in northern Iraq and Syria for two more years. The motion was submitted to parliament on Oct. 20.

Özgür Özel, head of the CHP’s parliamentary group, said his party will vote “no” on the motion.

Earlier, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu harshly criticized the AKP’s intention to extend the mandate, despite the fact that the party has backed all similar mandates in the past.

Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the ruling party for failing to inform other parties on the content of the motion, saying, “They have put everything into a motion, expecting us to endorse it.”

He also drew attention to the lengthy duration of the mandate, which is two years, compared to previous mandates for six months or one year.

“We do not want any of our soldiers or police officers to be martyred in Syria,” he said.

The AKP and its election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), will back the extension of the mandate, while the opposition İYİ (Good) Party said it would support the extension but will continue to criticize the AKP government for its military actions in neighboring countries. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will reject the motion as it did regarding all previous motions in the past.

NGOs call for ‘no’ to motion

Meanwhile, 23 nongovernmental organizations in a statement on Tuesday called on lawmakers to reject the motion.

“At a time when we are at a serious economic, political and social crossroads, parliament giving the government the mandate to conduct cross-border operations for a period of two years will increase our country’s problems and bring new tragedies for our people,” the NGOs said in the statement.

The NGOs urged lawmakers to refrain from “supporting belligerent and adventurist policies and being an accomplice in this grave crime.”

The Turkish government invited commanders from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to Ankara and held talks with them about a planned military operation in northern Syria, according to a report in the Turkish media on Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in separate statements that Turkey would take the necessary action against cross-border attacks from Syria after two Turkish special operations police officers were killed and two others wounded in a rocket attack carried out by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria earlier this month.

Turkey and its proxies have seized control of territory inside Syria over several military operations launched since 2016 against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and the Kurdish YPG militia.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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