The Turkish parliament cleared the way for military operations against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria on Thursday, with 298 members voting for the authorization and 98 opposing it.
The BBC reports that the resolution allows for the deployment of ground troops as well as combat aircraft against the jihadists. It also permits foreign forces participating in the U.S.-led coalition to use Turkish military bases — a potential boon for the U.S. Air Force, which had previously been barred from using its extensive air facilities in Incirlik, Turkey.
As a longtime foe of Syrian president Bashar Assad, Turkish president Recep Erdogan had been accused of facilitating the Islamic State’s rise by allowing foreign fighters to stream into Syria through his nation’s southern border.
But the release of 47 Turkish hostages by the Islamic State, the impending massacre of Kurdish civilians in the Syrian border town of Kobani, the possible danger to Turkish special forces guarding a historic mausoleum inside Syria, and the increasing incidence of stray fire striking Turkish territory all propelled him to action.
While the extent of the military operations remain unclear, Erdogan has long called for a buffer zone to be established alongside the Turkish border inside Syrian territory. And a Kurdish rebel leader warned he would break off peace talks with the Turkish government should it allow Islamic State fighers to “massacre” Kurds in Kobani.