Iran sides with Iraq in dispute with Turkey

Peshmerga forces fires a mortar towards ISIS militants' positions in the town of Naweran. (Reuters)

Iran said on Monday Turkey should get permission from Iraq’s government to participate in the operation to take back Mosul from ISIS - a statement with which Tehran waded into a dispute over the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

“It is not acceptable at all if a country, under the pretext of combating terrorism or any other crimes, tries to violate the sovereignty” of another country, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday.

Some 500 Turkish troops stationed at a base near Mosul are training Iraqi Sunni and Kurdish forces that are taking part in the offensive, which began a week ago.

The Shiite-led government in Baghdad says the Turks are there without permission and has ordered them out. Turkey has refused, insisting it play a role in the offensive to retake Mosul, a Sunni-majority city. Shiite-majority Iran is a close ally of the Baghdad government.

Iraq denies Turkish participation

Meanwhile, Iraq’s joint operations command on Monday denied Turkey was participating in military operations to retake the northern city of Mosul from ISIS.

“The spokesman of the Joint Operations Command denies Turkish participation of any kind in operations for the liberation of Nineveh,” a statement said, referring to the Iraqi province of which Mosul is the capital.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters on Sunday that Turkish troops stationed outside Mosul had provided support “with artillery, tanks and howitzers” following a request by Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Thousands of peshmerga forces are currently involved in a massive push in the Bashiqa area northeast of Mosul, where Turkey has a military base.

The forces of the autonomous Kurdish region, whose leader has close ties with Turkey, have complained recently that the US-led coalition’s air support as insufficient.

Turkey had repeatedly stated it wanted a part in the massive operation to retake Mosul, ISIS’s last major stronghold in Iraq.

Turkey strikes ISIS, Kurdish militias

In Syria, meanwhile, Turkey’s military struck dozens of ISIS and Kurdish YPG militia targets over the last 24 hours, depriving both groups of the ability to move around, the army said on Monday, as its operation there entered
a third month.

Backed by Turkish tanks, special forces and air strikes, rebels fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army crossed into northern Syria on Aug. 24 and took control of the border town of Jarablus from ISIS largely unopposed.

In the latest moves in the operation, dubbed “Euphrates Shield”, strikes by “fire support vehicles” hit 27 ISIS targets and 19 belonging to the YPG, leaving both groups “without maneuvering capacity”, the written statement said.

Erdogan said on Saturday the Turkish-backed forces would press on to the ISIS-held town of al-Bab, emphasizing Ankara’s drive to sweep its militants and Syrian Kurdish fighters from territory near its border.

The Syrian military said the presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil was unacceptable and a “dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria’s sovereignty.”

Erdogan also said Turkey would do what was necessary with its coalition partners in Syria’s Raqqa, but would not work with the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies, has fought a three-decade insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.

(With AFP, AFP)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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