Turkey has a duty to protect its soldiers around the Iraqi city of Mosul which is under the control of terrorist organisation DAESH, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
Cavusoglu emphasised that Turkish soldiers were in Iraq simply to train and advise Iraqi forces fighting against DAESH and that the Turkish military has been operating in the region in line with the request and knowledge of the Iraqi government from the very beginning.
"It is our duty to provide security for our soldiers who give training there," Cavusoglu said.
Meanwhile, Brett McGurk, US presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter DAESH, has recently said in his personal Twitter account that ‘’The US does not support military deployments inside Iraq absent the consent of the Iraqi government.’’
‘’Last 24 hours, we have actively encouraged Turkish and Iraqi authorities to discuss the current situation through appropriate channels and the recent phone call between the Turkish-Iraqi defense ministers was a positive and constructive step forward.’’ McGurk also said.
The special envoy added ‘’We are encouraged by reports that Turkish military forces have pulled back from the Iraqi border as diplomatic engagements proceed,’’ while calling on all parties to reach a diplomatic resolution as partners united against DAESH.
On Saturday, Turkish Armed Forces deployed around 150 soldiers and 20 tanks to the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul, to replace troops that have been in the region for two and a half years, where they have been training Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
According to Turkish security sources, the mission was launched with the knowledge of the US-led coalition and was part of a routine military exercise against the DAESH terrorist group.
Accordingly, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the deployment was just a routine troop rotation and Turkish forces set up a camp about 30 km (19 miles) northeast of Mosul cooperating with the Iraqi Defence Ministry after Mosul governor’s request almost a year ago.
A number of Turkish trainers were already at the camp before the latest deployment to train Hashid Watani (national mobilisation), a force which included mostly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul, which DAESH terrorists captured in June 2014.
As for the Iraqi government, Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al Obeidi said on Sunday that he asked his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz to withdraw the hundreds of Turkish forces deployed in Iraq, near the DAESH-held city of Mosul, stressing that the deployment was implemented without informing or coordinating with Baghdad.
The Iraqi president, prime minister and foreign ministry have all been opposed to the Turkish deployment in recent days, defining it as a “hostile act” and a “violation of international law.”
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to issue a formal protest.