#MosulOps: Iraq denies reports of Turkish military participation

#MosulOps: Iraq denies reports of Turkish military participation

2 min read
24 October, 2016
Reports that Turkish troops are taking part in the Battle of Mosul have been denied by the Iraqi military.
Turkey had repeatedly stated it wanted a part in the operation to retake Mosul [Getty]

Iraq has denied that Turkish soldiers are participating in military operations to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.

"The reports that Turkey is taking part in the operations for the liberation of Nineveh are false. These forces are not participating in any way," the spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Yahya Rasoul, said in a statement.

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 north-east of Mosul, where Turkey has a military base.

Military sources in the Iraqi military and the peshmerga told The New Arab that the Joint Operations Command was a political move to avoid humiliating Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

He has been under pressure at home due to the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil - a country many in Iraq see as having abetted the rise of IS.

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A high-ranking Peshmerga officer said that Turkish artillery had fired at IS positions over the weekend close to Sinjar, while an Iraqi officer in the 15th Division also confirmed the Turkish participation.

"The IS positions the Turkish forces shelled were posing a threat to our troops. I am surprised by the anger coming out from Baghdad towards any move the Turks make even if it is positive," the Iraqi military officer said.

Turkish presence in northern Iraq is not new but reinforcement sent to the Bashiqa base last year sparked the ire of parts of Iraq public opinion and of dominant Shia parties.

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

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited Baghdad on Saturday and Erbil, the Kurdish capital, on Sunday.

He had suggested before his visit to Iraq that Turkey should be given a role in the Mosul offensive, Iraq's biggest military operation in years.

But speaking after a meeting with Carter, Abadi swiftly rejected the idea.

"I know that the Turks want to participate... We tell them 'thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul'," he said.