Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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 said.
Erdogan’s comments came after Iraqi PM Abadi speaking to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone on Tuesday requested assistance in having Turkish troops removed from northern Iraq after Turkish Military deployed approximately 150 soldiers and dispatched 20 tanks to the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul on Dec. 4.
Turkish PM Davutoglu, described the deployment as a “routine troop activity,” stating that the military camp in the region was not a new one and was set up in coordination with Iraqi authorities to train Kurdish Peshmerga forces against DAESH terrorist organisation.
Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani also confirmed on Tuesday that deployment of Turkish troops to the town of Bashiqa near Mosul was made in line with an agreement between Turkey and Iraq.
Barzani said that the Turkish forces arrived in Iraq within the context of a deal to train forces who will participate in Mosul operation against DAESH.
Moreover, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told his Iraqi counterpart by phone that Turkey’s "activities aimed to contribute to the struggle against DAESH in Iraq and reiterated that the deployment had stopped," spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters.
"There is no withdrawal at the moment, but the deployment has stopped," Bilgic added.
Erdogan criticizes Iran and Iraq over sectarian policy
President Erdogan also criticized the policies of Iranian and Iraqi governments saying that they are promoting sectarianism in their countries.
Erdogan called on Iraqi government saying "What will happen to Sunnis? There are Sunni Arabs, Sunni Turkmen and Sunni Kurds in Iraq. What about their security? They need sense of security."
"People in northern Iraq lost their rights due to the regional governance and they need their rights back. For instance, a lot of Arabs in the region have lost their rights. Unfortunately we cannot see a fair governing in Iraq. That's why people there are so worried.’’ he said.