Iraqi PM: Turkish troops not allowed in Mosul operation
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday reiterated his refusal to allow Turkish troops to take part in the operation to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State group (IS).
Abadi said the operation will be purely Iraqi, amid Turkey’s insistence on taking part, in the latest episode of the war of words between Baghdad and Ankara, which threatens to derail the anticipated offensive to dislodge IS from Iraq’s second city.
“The battle of Mosul will take place on time and only Iraqis will take part,” Abadi said during a press conference in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala.
“The existence of any foreign forces on Iraqi soil is a breach of sovereignty, and the insistence of Turkish leaders on keeping their troops in Iraq is very odd,” the prime minister added.
Turkey has an estimated 2,000 troops in Iraq - around 500 of them in the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq, according to Turkish media.
The Iraqi parliament last week described the Turkish forces as an "occupying force", prompting Ankara to summon the Iraqi ambassador in protest, with Baghdad taking similar measure with the Turkish envoy.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Thursday was defiant in the face of Iraqi accusations that Ankara was risking a regional war by moving forces inside Iraq without the government’s consent.
"No matter what the Iraqi government in Baghdad says, a Turkish presence will remain there to fight against Daesh (IS), and to avoid any forceful change of the demographic composition in the region," Yildirim said in televised comments.
"It's not the (Iraqi) government's right to speak like that," he said.
"When troops from 63 countries are present there [the international coalition], it is unreasonable [for the Iraqi government] to focus on Turkey's presence."
Meanwhile, Iraq has requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting over Turkey’s troop deployment in northern Iraq.
"The Iraqi foreign ministry has presented a request for an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the Turkish violation of Iraq's territory and interference in its internal affairs," said a statement on the ministry's website.