Iraq denies Turkish forces clashed with ISIS

Iraq’s joint operations command denied that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked or had clashes with ISIS

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Iraq’s joint operations command denied on Saturday that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked by ISIS or had clashed with the militants, refuting claims by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“The joint operations command denies there was a terrorist attack on the position of Turkish forces in Bashiqa by the terrorist Daesh (ISIS) recently,” said a news flash on state television, referring to a military base near Mosul.

“The joint operations command denies what was relayed in some media outlets from the Turkish president about clashing between the Turkish forces inside Iraqi territory and the terrorist Daesh whether in Bashiqa or any other areas,” another flash said.

Erdogan said on Friday that an attack by ISIS on the military base where Turkish troops are training an Iraqi Sunni militia showed Turkey’s decision to deploy troops there was justified.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that more than 60 percent of sorties against ISIS in Iraq are carried out by the nation’s air forces and about 40 percent by the U.S.-led coalition.

Iraq’s army last month scored its first success against ISIS when it recaptured, with air support from the coalition, the city center of Ramadi. Until then, it was the Iran-backed Shiite militias that were leading the fight against the hardline Sunni militants.

Speaking at a ceremony in Baghdad broadcast live on state TV, Abadi said Iraq still needed foreign assistance for air cover, training and armament, but not for ground operations.

Abadi renewed his call for Turkey to withdraw troops deployed in the region of Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq which has been under Islamic State control since 2014.

“This is a frank invitation to Turkey our neighbor to pull out its forces from Iraq,” he said. “We will deploy every effort permitted by our rights and international law to make them leave,” he added.

Turkey deployed around 150 troops last month at the Bashiqa base, where it is training an Iraqi militia to fight Islamic State, citing heightened security risks.

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