Erdogan: Turkish troops needed in Iraq after attack

Shiite militia members and supporters carry a banner representing the Iraqi flag during a demonstration demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq, in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq. (File photo: AP)

An attack by ISIS militants on a military base in northern Iraq shows Turkey’s decision to deploy troops there was justified, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul that 18 ISIS militants were killed but no Turkish soldiers were harmed in the attack at the Bashiqa base in Iraq’s Nineveh province.

Turkey deployed a force protection unit of around 150 troops last month citing heightened security risks near Bashiqa, where its troops are training an Iraqi militia to fight ISIS, and stirring a diplomatic row.

Erdogan said the problems at the base arose in the wake of tensions between Russia and Turkey, and said that Turkey was acting in line with international law.

Earlier, a Turkish government source said Friday that Turkish troops have repelled an attack by ISIS on a camp used to train Iraqi fighters outside the city of Mosul in Iraq.

“There was an exchange of fire around the Bashiqa camp and Daesh launched an attack which was repelled,” a Turkish government source told AFP, using another name for ISIS.

Several ISIS members were killed in the clash late Thursday, the source said, adding that no Turkish soldier was wounded or died. Turkish media reports said 17 ISIS fighters were killed.

Turkish forces have been using the Bashiqa camp to train local Iraqi fighters to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS.

But their presence, while welcomed by the local authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan, has become a bone of contention with the central Iraqi government which angrily called for the Turkish troops to leave.

Turkey in December withdrew some of the troops after also coming under U.S. pressure. But it is unclear how many remain at the camp.

Four Turkish soldiers were wounded on December 16 when ISIS fired mortars on the training camp, in an attack that also left two Iraqis dead.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47