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Bassem Dabbagh

Turkish forces training Turkmen force in Iraq

Iraqi fighters head towards Kirkuk to continue the fight against IS [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 April, 2015

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A "National Mobilisation" of Turkmen is being trained in Iraq to take part in the battle to retake Mosul this summer, according to sources.
Turkish special forces officers are training 500 Iraqi Turkmen at a camp in Iraq's Nineveh province to take part in the battle for Mosul, al-Araby al-Jadeed has learned.

The so-called "National Mobilisation" camp has been set up about 40km west of Mosul in territories controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga forces. 

Training lasts up to three weeks and focuses on basic combat skills, weapons, and military tactics.
     Turkish forces will provide logistical support and training for Turkmen forces in Kirkuk, Mosul, and Erbil.

Al-Araby has also learnt Turkey has enlisted the help of both Shia and Sunni Turkmen factions.

At the end of March, Arshad Salehi the Turkmen MP for Kirkuk, and Hassan Turan MP for Kirkuk, who are both leaders of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, and ‏‎Ammar Alkahya another MP for Kirkuk, visited Istanbul for informal talks.

Turkmen political forces have agreed to set aside their sectarian differences and close ranks because of the existential threat posed to their community by events in Iraq.

During a recent visit to Baghdad by Turkish defence minister Ismet Yilmaz, it was agreed that Turkish forces would provide logistical support and training for Turkmen forces in Kirkuk, Mosul, and Erbil. 

At the same time, Baghdad would provide weapons and ammunition. The agreement also covers an ongoing training programme for Kurdish Peshmerga troops.

The governor of Nineveh province, Athil al-Nujaifi, earlier said the Iraqi army would carry out the first phase of the liberation of Mosul by itself, using heavy weapons to strike IS.

The second phase, Nujaifi said, would be handled by special forces made up of local police in Mosul and the National Mobilisation Force.

Their main mission, according to the governor of Nineveh, would be to keep the peace in areas that have been retaken. He also said no strangers or members of the Shia militias, known as the "Popular Mobilisation Force", would enter the city.

Nujaifi said the push to liberate Mosul would begin in the summer according to an agreement between the central government in Baghdad and tribal leaders in the region.

Their efforts will be backed by international coalition air raids, he confirmed.

Nujaifi also said: "Officers from Mosul will lead the Iraqi army forces, that will not have any sectarian elements in their ranks."

Turkmen are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds. It is mainly made up of Muslims, and split nearly equally between Sunnis and Shia. The Turkmens live in east and north Iraq, especially Erbil, Mosul, and Kirkuk, and Kirkuk is their capital.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. 

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