The Iraqi government demanded Ankara to withdraw the more than 100 Turkish forces that entered Iraq with tanks and artillery for alleged “training” of troops near Islamic State-occupied Mosul. Baghdad stressed the unsanctioned move was a breach of its sovereignty.
President Fouad Massoum called the deployment of Turkish troops inside Iraq “a violation of international norms and law”.
Massoum called on Turkey to withdraw the troops and asked Iraq’s Foreign Ministry to take the necessary measures “to preserve the country’s sovereignty and independence”.
The foreign ministry called Turkey’s move “an incursion,” Reuters reported.
According to the agency’s source, the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition was aware of Turkey’s move.
“Turkish soldiers have reached the Mosul Bashiqa region. They are there as part of routine training exercises. One battalion has crossed into the region,” the source told Reuters without revealing the exact number of troops.
He added that the Turkish forces are “training Iraqi troops.”
However, according to two US defense officials quoted by Reuters, Turkey’s deployment is not part of the efforts of the US-led coalition battling Islamic State (IS).
On Friday, 130 Turkish soldiers equipped with heavy weapons were deployed at a military base on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, which is currently held by IS, according to the Daily Sabah newspaper.
According to Cumhuriyet newspaper, the number of the deployed Turkish troops amounts to at least 150.
The town of Bashiqa is located about 10 kilometers northeast of Mosul.
Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, was seized by Islamic State in June 2014 and has been fully governed by militants ever since. Moreover, the extremist group captured large stockpiles of weapons that were stored in the city.
“In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with Iraqiya state TV in June. “We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone,” he added.
‘Ankara adding fuel to the fire’
By shooting down a Russian bomber and sending forces to neighboring Iraq, Ankara is adding fuel to the fire in the Middle East to prevent major powers from joining forces to defeat IS, Russian Senator Franz Klintsevich told RIA Novosti.
“The Su-24 tragedy, as well as the invasion of Turkish troops in Iraq are linked. The Turkish regime is trying to escalate tensions in the region to prevent a counter-terrorism coalition from being formed,” Klintsevich said.
A so-called “war of all against all” will put an end to efforts aimed at bringing together major stakeholders, interested in defeating extremists. This is exactly what the country, which is engaged in illegal business with IS, is trying to achieve in the Middle East.
“We’ve already said this: all masks have been thrown down, we have to be ready for any provocation,” Klintsevich added.