Iraqi defence minister calls for withdrawal of Turkish troops

Iraqi defence minister asks his Turkish counterpart to withdraw troops deployed in Iraq near DAESH-held city of Mosul

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi asks Turkey to withdraw troops in the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul on December 6, 2015

Updated Dec 7, 2015

Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al Obeidi on Sunday said that he asked his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz to withdraw the hundreds of Turkish forces deployed in Iraq, near the DAESH-held city of Mosul, stressing that the deployment was implemented without informing or coordinating with Baghdad.

Obeidi said in a statement that Yilmaz had explained the deployment as necessary to protect Turkish military advisers training Iraqi forces in preparation to recapture the city of Mosul.

However, Obeidi said in response to the statement that the Turkish forces were too large for such a purpose.

"No matter the size of the force entering Iraq, it is rejected," the statement said.

"It was possible to undertake this sort of prior coordination without creating circumstances which contributed to a crisis between the two countries."

Iraqi president, prime minister and foreign ministry have all been opposed to the Turkish deployment in recent days, defining it as a “hostile act” and a “violation of international law.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said on Sunday that Iraq had the right to use all available options, including going to the United Nations security council, if Turkish troops in Iraq were not withdrawn within 2 days.

Abadi also stated that the deployment of hundreds of Turkish forces took place without the approval or knowledge of the Iraqi government and constituted a “violation of national sovereignty.”

The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to issue a formal protest.

Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi addresses volunteer soldiers, trained by Australian military advisors, who will participate Mosul operation to recapture the city back from DAESH, at the Camp Taji in Baghdad, Iraq on November 04, 2015 (AA)

Syria also slammed Turkey on Sunday for deploying hundreds of Turkish forces in Mosul, accusing Ankara of playing a “destructive role” against both Arab countries.

The Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement that it "condemns the flagrant Turkish violation of Iraqi territory, which comes as a continuation of the destructive role [Ankara] is playing against Syria and Iraq."

Syria accused Ankara of supporting “terrorist groups” in the country’s civil war.

Turkey, which has supported rebels fighting against Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad’s forces, said that the departure of Assad must be part of any long-term solution to end the Syrian conflict.

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the deployment was just a routine troop rotation and Turkish forces set up a camp about 30km (19 miles) northeast of Mosul cooperating with the Iraqi Defence Ministry after Mosul governor’s request almost a year ago.

A number of Turkish trainers were already at the camp before the latest deployment to train Hashid Watani (national mobilisation), a force included mostly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul, which DAESH terrorists captured in June 2014.

Turkish Armed Forces deployed around 150 soldiers and 20 tanks to the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul, to replace troops that have been in the region for two and a half years, where they have been training Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

According to Turkish security sources, the mission was launched with the knowledge of the US-led coalition and is part of a routine military exercise against the DAESH terrorist group.

TRTWorld and agencies