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Turkey's parliament renews mandate for troop deployment in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, says no military action is planned for Idlib
Turkish mandate allows military action against Islamic State group and others Turkey deems 'terrorists' (AFP)

Turkey's parliament on Wednesday approved a motion to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in neighbouring Syria and Iraq for another year, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said no military action is planned for the rebel-held Idlib region.

Putin and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a deal on 17 September to prevent a Syrian government assault on the last rebel-held province. They agreed on a demilitarised zone in Idlib between government forces and rebels, and that former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) would be cleared from the region without using military intervention.

The Turkish military deployment mandate, first approved by parliament in October 2014, has been renewed each year since then, according to state news outlet Anadolu.

It allows for Turkey to take military action in Iraqi and Syrian territory against the Islamic State (IS) group and others Ankara deems to be terror organisations.

In March, the Turkish army and allied Free Syrian Army forces seized the city of Afrin from Syrian Kurdish rebels, forcing at least 200,000 residents to flee the city. FSA fighters were accused of looting homes and businesses and taking over the homes of the local Kurdish population.

Behind the scenes of the Turkey-Russia Idlib deal
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Ismet Yilmaz, head of the parliament's defence committee, said there would be no reprieve in Turkey's fight against "terror".

"We will not allow terror groups to shelter or be trained in our country's southern borders, or stage attacks against our country utilising the instable political situation in Iraq and Syria," Yilmaz was quoted as saying by Anadolu.

Putin, meanwhile, said the demilitarised zone in Syria's Idlib has been effective and no major military actions are planned in the area.

"I have every reason to believe that we will achieve our goals," Putin said, referring to the buffer set up by Russia and Turkey in Idlib.

"And that means no large-scale military actions are expected there," he said. "Military action for the sake of military action is unnecessary."

Missile system

On Tuesday, Russia delivered a S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in defiance of Israeli and US concerns that the arms sale would embolden Iran and escalate the Syrian war.

The new system reportedly will enable Syria to restrict Israeli access to its airspace, an improvement over its current anti-aircraft system, which is relatively outdated.

Russia decided to send the missile system to Syria shortly after one of its military planes was downed there in September, killing 15 Russians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitor group, said in late September that Russian air strikes in the past three years have killed 18,000 people, almost half of them civilians.