Parliamentary lawmakers in Turkey today voted to authorize military action against the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) as militants from that organization continued their advance on territory just south of Turkey's border.
The vote, which went 298-98 in favor of action, gives the government power to take out ISIS in both Syria and Iraq and counter any threats "from all terrorist groups." According to an article from The Independent, it also allows foreign forces to use Turkish territory for operations against ISIS militants.
"Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions," President Recep Tayyop Erdogan said to Turkish parliament this week. "A decisive struggle against all terrorist organizations in the region should be achieved and Turkey's proposals and warnings should be taken into consideration."
Erdogan then added that air bombs can only do so much to delay the threat and danger. However, Turkey's defense minister, Ismet Yilmaz, warned that the resolution's approval does not automatically mean military action would take place immediately.
"The rising influence of radical groups in Syria threatens Turkey's national security," Yilmaz said to the Turkish Parliament. "The aim of this mandate is to minimize as much as possible the impact of the clashes on our borders."
According to the Financial Times, this resolution combined, renewed and expanded two previous authorizations to use force in Iraq and Syria. In the past, Turkey has approved them for use thanks to tensions with both the current government in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers' party in Iraq, better known as PKK.
A news report from Reuters has noted that ISIS fighters are within a few kilometers away from the border town of Kobani, which has a mainly Kurdish population. This action extended their control around the town, including hundreds of villages surrounding it.
A Kurdish fighter told Reuters that the militants have bombarded the local power grid, taking out Kobani's electricity supply. A PKK leader warned Turkey that peace talks would be called off if ISIS attempts to massacre the Kurdish residents of Kobani.
"It will be like Stalingrad," said Ahmad Ali, 37, another Kurdish fighter living across the border in Turkey. "If ISIS attacks the city, all the streets will run with blood."
According to Turkey's AFAD disaster management agency, about 4,000 refugees crossed the Turkish border yesterday. Reuters also reported that over 150,000 refugees have fled Kobani over the past two weeks.