Iraq welcomes removal of Turkish troops from Mosul

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari says ongoing withdrawal of Turkish troops from Mosul is 'step in right direction'

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari is seen in the file photo.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari has welcomed Turkey's decision to move its troops from Mosul's Bashiqa camp as a "step in the right direction.”

"We deem media reports regarding Turkish troops' withdrawal as a step in the right direction within the context of reinforcement of our relations, respect to Iraq's security and sovereignty and the fight against DAESH terror," said a statement from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed on Saturday that the moving of troops would continue.

"Turkey reiterates its support for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and acknowledges the miscommunication with the Government of Iraq over the recent deployments of Turkish protection forces to support training activities for Iraqi forces in their campaign against DAESH in northern Iraq,” the ministry said.

Baghdad had complained about the Dec. 4 deployment of troops to the site near Mosul, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and insisting the Turkish forces be withdrawn.

Turkey said that the 150 soldiers and up to 25 tanks were stationed in Bashiqa to protect Turkish servicemen training Iraqi volunteers to fight DAESH. The training mission has been in Iraq since March and is not assigned to combat duties.

Jafari's statement also reiterated that Baghdad wanted promotion of their "strongest and strategic relations" with Turkey which he said they have built since 2003.

On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the presence of Turkish forces in Bashiqa does not pose a threat to the territorial integrity of Iraq but represents a strong entity against terrorism.

In a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Friday, US President Barack Obama asked his counterpart to take additional steps in order to ease the tension with Baghdad.