Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkish soldiers will continue to stay in Iraq's Mosul because they have been stationed there for training purposes at the request of the Iraqi government.
“Our soldiers stationed [in Mosul] have not been stationed there as combat troops. They are there as trainees. Their task in the Bashika camp and another camp has currently been to train [Iraqi armed forces],” Erdogan said in a joint press conference with presidential council members from Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday evening.
“The number of our soldiers could surely be either increased or decreased according to the number of Peshmergas whom they have been giving training. There is no possibility at the moment to pull back our troops [from the region],” he informed, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency has reported.
Erdogan has also criticised the Russian presence in Syria inviting the Putin administration to explain its military deployment in the country.
“Does Russia have any borders with these countries?” he asked replying to a question over Russia’s recent application into the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) concerning Turkey’s military deployment in Mosul.
“They had previously established a military base in Tartus [in Syria]. [I guess] it was not enough that they have recently established a new military base in north of Latakia deploying their warplanes, and rockets there,” he recalled.
“First of all, they need to account for that to the world explaining why they are there,” Erdogan demanded.
He has also underlined that, “Russians are not a party in this issue,” concerning Turkey’s Mosul deployment in Iraq.
UNSC has rejected this week to discuss the Russian request over the Turkish deployment in its respective chamber which was also a point made by the Turkish president in his latest remarks.
Erdogan also said that Turkish soldiers have been in Iraq since 2014, upon request of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, speaking in an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
‘’During a visit to Turkey in 2014, Haider al Abadi asked us to support them by giving military training and upon that a military camp was established in Bashiqa region of Iraq. They know this fact very well. Now I am asking why they have been silent over Turkish troops since that time?’’ Erdogan recounted.