Baghdad's remarks on Turkey training fighters in northern Iraq to combat DAESH are "dangerous and provocative,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday.
On Wednesday, both countries summoned their ambassadors after the Iraqi parliament called on the government to define Turkish troops as "occupation forces”. The events come ahead of a planned operation against DAESH which took over Mosul two years ago.
Turkish troops have been stationed in Bashiqa, near Mosul, to train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to take on the terrorist organisation. Turkey was invited by the Kurdish Regional Government, however, Iraq’s central government in Baghdad sees the deployment as a violation of its sovereignty.
"Our troops are carrying out very useful work in Iraq. We have no hostile attitude towards Iraq or its territorial integrity,” Yildirim told reporters in Ankara.
“We bear responsibility for bringing peace and preventing conflict in the region,” said Yildirim. “Our soldiers are fighting against DAESH terrorists there."
He pointed to the fact that Turkish troops had been in Iraq for some time. “Our soldiers did not go there today, they have been there for a long time,” he said.
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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday around 3,000 local Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen fighters were being trained against DAESH by military experts. He said they had so far "neutralised" around 750 DAESH terrorists in the area.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus earlier said Turkish forces were invited by KRG President Masoud Barzani.
Safeen Dizayi, the KRG spokesperson, said the presence of Turkish military advisers was approved by the Iraqi defence ministry and federal government. “Within the framework of this process, Turkish military advisers have provided training to police and volunteering forces of Nineveh,” Dizayi said.
“The Iraqi defence minister had visited the military bases and Turkish troops in the area.”
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city located about 360 kilometres (225 miles) north-west of Baghdad, is the last remaining DAESH stronghold in Iraq.