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Turkey's Erdogan requests two-year extension for Turkish troops in Syria and Iraq

Erdogan's extension request for troop deployment comes amid his threat of a new military operation against Syrian Kurdish YPG
Turkish soldiers take position near the village of al-Nayrab, about 14 kilometres southeast of the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria, on 20 February, 2020 (AFP)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan requested a two-year-long authorisation from parliament on Wednesday to deploy troops to Syria and Iraq amid Ankara’s renewed military threats against the Syrian Kurdish militant group YPG.

The move itself has drawn special attention because Erdogan sought to renew the authorisation for 24 months instead of 12 months as he would usually do.

Erdogan said in this authorisation request that land borders with Iraq and Syria were still carrying risks and threats against Turkey’s national security.

He also said that YPG had been continuing its “separatist” activities in Syria and Ankara had been taking additional measures to maintain the peace and stability in the areas where it operates.

Erdogan vowed last week to respond to an attack by YPG forces in northern Syria that left two Turkish police officers dead.

"We have no patience left in some areas that are a source of terror attacks aimed at our country from Syria," Erdogan said after chairing a cabinet meeting attended by top ministers.

"We are determined to eliminate the threats emanating from Syria with our own means," he said in televised comments. "We will take the necessary steps in Syria as soon as possible."

Two Turkish police officers were killed and two others were wounded after an attack reportedly carried out by the YPG in Azaz, where Turkish forces control Syrian territory, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with which it has been locked in a deadly war for three decades.

The PKK has been leading an armed insurgency against the Turkish government for greater Kurdish autonomy since 1984, in a conflict that has killed some 40,000 people.

The Turkish parliament is expected to approve Erdogan's troop deployment request since his ruling coalition holds the majority in the parliament. 

Meanwhile Ankara continues negotiations with Moscow on YPG-held Tal Rifaat pocket in northern Syria where the Syrian Kurdish group routinely harasses the Turkish forces located nearby.

Moscow wants to preserve the area as a buffer zone that protects Aleppo against the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition groups.