Iraq seeks ‘uninterrupted’ Turkish military support against ISIS

Turkish authorities have arrested a number of suspected ISIS militants in recent months

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Iraq's foreign minister on Tuesday sought "uninterrupted" military support from neighbouring Turkey in its fight against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"The presence of Daesh constitutes a threat not only to Iraq but also to countries in the region as well as Turkey," Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a joint news conference in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, using a pejorative name for ISIS.

"We expect uninterrupted military support... from brotherly country Turkey," he said. "Cooperation will benefit us all."

Iraq is battling to retake areas of the country overrun by ISIS militants. Authorities announced a major offensive on Monday to "liberate Anbar", a vast province that is largely under ISIS control.

"Daesh must be wiped out," Jaafari said in remarks translated into Turkish.

"In order to do this, we need arms and training ... There is a need for a well-trained soldiers and police," he added.

"A hit-and-run war is taking place right now. You are not fighting a regular army. That's a difficult part of the business."

Cavusoglu pledged Ankara's continuing support, saying the country had trained 1,600 peshmerga fighters from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region and that there were plans for Iraqi police to be trained in Turkey.

"We have also provided Baghdad with some military assistance," he said, without elaborating.

Turkey has faced international criticism for not doing enough to secure its border with Iraq and Syria, where militants have made large gains.

A vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Turkey fiercely rejects the accusations, saying it is making every effort to secure a long border.

In turn, it has accused the West of failing to help shoulder the burden of the refugee crisis sparked by the war in Syria. Turkey is currently hosting some 1.8 million Syrian refugees.

Turkish authorities have arrested a number of suspected ISIS militants in recent months.

Turkey -- NATO's only majority Muslim member -- has stayed out of active participation in the anti-ISIS coalition led by its ally the United States assisting Kurdish forces in the fight against the jihadists.

Analysts say Turkey remains reluctant to the U.S.-led campaign out of fears that the growing power of Kurdish forces will embolden its own 15-million strong Kurdish minority, and that militants could launch revenge attacks inside Turkey.

Ankara, which has recently reinforced its military presence on the border with tanks, anti-aircraft missiles and additional troops, wants a wider strategy for Syria that would ultimately bring Assad's downfall.

It has repeatedly called for a buffer zone to be put in place along the border, backed by a no-fly zone.

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