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Turkish Parliament OKs Army's Cross-border Operations in Iraq, Syria

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, rear right, smiles as he listens to opposition lawmaker Engin Altay before a parliamentary vote in Ankara, Turkey, Sept. 23, 2017. The Turkish parliament renewed a bill allowing the military to intervene in Iraq and Syria if faced with national security threats — a move seen as a final warning to Iraqi Kurds to call off their Monday independence referendum.

Turkey's main opposition united with the government Saturday to overwhelmingly pass a motion giving its military a mandate to carry out operations in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

The parliament met in an emergency session two days ahead of an independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds. Addressing parliament, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli warned that the Kurdish referendum would bring very dangerous consequences, perhaps even clashes even in global terms.

"Pulling out just a brick from a structure based on very sensitive and fragile balances will sow the seeds for new hatred, enmity and clashes," Canikli said.

He added that all options and methods were on the table regarding the independence vote and that Turkey would not hesitate to use them.

Members of the parliament vote during an extraordinary session in Ankara, Turkey, Sept. 23, 2017.
Members of the parliament vote during an extraordinary session in Ankara, Turkey, Sept. 23, 2017.

Ankara strongly opposes the referendum, fearing it could fuel secessionist demands within its own large restive Kurdish minority.

On Saturday, the head of the Iraqi armed forces met with his Turkish counterpart in Turkey's capital, Ankara, for talks on the forthcoming referendum. Baghdad shares Ankara's opposition to the vote.

Turkish armed forces carrying out drills on the Iraqi Kurdish border received new reinforcements. The army has been holding military exercises there for the past six days.

Turkish forces were also being beefed up on the Syrian border, with Ankara again warning it would not allow Syrian Kurds to create their own independent state.

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