Top Iraqi Shiite religious leaders Ammar al Hakim and Muqtada al Sadr have demanded that diplomatic and legal efforts should be put in place to address Iraq’s current disagreement with Turkey on its recent military deployment in Mosul.
Hakim’s office released a statement on Thursday stating that both leaders have met in Necef in order to discuss political developments concerning regional issues and security.
Hakim leads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which is one of the most powerful Iraqi political institutions.
Sadr is the leader of the Sadrist movement and one of the strongest Shiite religious leaders in Iraq where his family has a historically powerful place.
The two influential leaders have also emphasised the need to respect national sovereignty of Iraq by Turkey indicating that legal and diplomatic channels should effectively be functioned by both countries to secure removal of Turkish armed units from Mosul.
Turkish Armed Forces on Dec. 4 deployed around 150 soldiers and 25 tanks to the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul, to replace the troops that have reportedly been training Peshmerga forces in the region since March 2015.
Turkish and Iraqi leaders have been rebuking each other concerning the deployment since December.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi criticised the deployment, claiming that it had been carried out without Baghdad's approval and asked Turkish government to withdraw its troops from the region.
However, Erdogan said that Turkish soldiers will continue to stay in northern Iraq because they have been stationed there for training purposes at the request of the Iraqi government.
Turkey has recently announced that its military units in the country have been relocated and it will continue to redeploy its forces.
Iraqi top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani has previously called in a statement on Dec. 11 the full attention of the Baghdad government in order to defend its territorial integrity demonstrating “no tolerance” against violations concerning national sovereignty.