Turkish troops ‘to stay in Iraq’ despite objections

Turkish troops drive their tanks on September 4, 2016 on a road near the Syrian village of al-Waqf and some 3km south of al-Rai, the small border town with Turkey. (AFP)

Turkey insisted on Thursday that its troops will remain in Iraq despite Baghdad’s growing anger ahead of a planned operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS.

Baghdad has accused Ankara of risking a regional war by keeping its forces inside Iraq, with the dispute complicating plans for the ambitious American-backed Mosul operation.

“No matter what the Iraqi government in Baghdad says, a Turkish presence will remain there to fight against Daesh (ISIS), and to avoid any forceful change of the demographic composition in the region,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in televised comments.

Turkey has an estimated 2,000 troops in Iraq — around 500 of them in the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq training Iraqi fighters who hope to participate in the battle to recapture Mosul, according to Turkish media.

The Turkish parliament on Saturday extended a government mandate by one year, allowing its troops to remain on both Iraqi and Syrian soil.

The Iraqi parliament labelled the Turkish troops an “occupying force” while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi raised fears that Turkey’s move could lead to “regional war”.

In protest, Ankara summoned the Iraqi ambassador, and Baghdad was summoning the Turkish envoy in a tit-for-tat move.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:59 - GMT 10:59
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