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Turkey seeks to extend mandate for Iraq, Syria incursions: Official

Mandate allows use of Turkish armed forces in Syria and Iraq as well as passage of anti-IS coalition forces through Turkey
Members of the Islamic State group near the site of an airstrike at the Syria-Turkey border near Sanliurfa province on 23 October 2014 (AFP)

Turkey's government is seeking to extend a parliamentary mandate that allows the military to combat Islamist and Kurdish militants in neighbouring Syria and Iraq for one more year, a foreign ministry official said on Friday.

The current mandate under which the Turkish armed forces launched airstrikes in Iraq and Syria expires on 2 October, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The cabinet has already approved the extension which now rests with Turkey's parliament.

The mandate - which allowed Turkey to make an incursion into Syria in February to relocate a historic tomb - allows the use of armed forces in neighbouring Syria and Iraq as well as for foreign forces to transit through Turkish territory in anti-IS operations against Islamic State (IS) militants.

The terms of the mandate also permit US air forces to use Turkey's Incirlik air base to make lethal strikes against IS in Syria, which started on 12 August after months of negotiations.

Turkey is waging a dual offensive against IS militants and Kurdish rebels in Iraq and Syria after a suicide bomb attack in Suruc, a town on the Syrian border by suspected IS militants killed 33 pro-Kurdish socialist activists last month.

Kurdish militants then killed two police in revenge, prompting the Turkish army to launch airstrikes on bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and in the Kurdish dominated southeast.

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