An Iraqi soldier waves the Iraqi national flag above a building in Saqlawiyah, northwest of Fallujah, June 8, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Iraq says Turkish forces will not be allowed to participate in military operations aimed at liberating Mosul, an Iraqi city that Daesh has declared as its so-called headquarters.
A spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Monday that recent remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding the need for the participation of Turkish forces in the Mosul operation amounted to flagrant interference in Iraq’s internal affairs and were a breach of principles of good neighborliness.
“Such a statement strains the bilateral ties,” the spokesman said referring to Erdogan’s comments.
The Iraqi government has pledged to retake Mosul, which is Iraq’s second-largest city, this year but has not yet announced a precise date for the launch of the campaign.
The ministry spokesman also highlighted that Turkey has ignored Baghdad’s calls for the withdrawal of Turkish forces already deployed on Iraqi soil.
Ankara, in December 2015, first deployed about 150 soldiers equipped with heavy weapons and backed by two dozen tanks to Bashiqa, located on the outskirts of Mosul. It claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh. Baghdad rejected the claim, saying it did not need the Turkish military assistance in the fight.
On Saturday, Turkish lawmakers almost overwhelmingly approved the extension by another year of Ankara’s cross-border military incursions into Syria and Iraq. During the parliamentary session, Erdogan urged allowing his country’s troops to participate in the upcoming battle for Mosul, warning Baghdad and Turkey’s Western allies that Turkey must be involved in any operation and included in the decision-making process.
“Turkey cannot be left off the table. The others don’t have such a border [with Iraq]. They may want us to stay as spectators but that decision is also going to be made here,” the Turkish president said.
Iraqi advancements
In a separate development, Iraqi security forces have managed to retake a district in the strategic city of Ramadi from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
“The security forces managed today to liberate the district of Albu Ali al-Jassim… in northern Ramadi city,” Staff Major General Ismail al-Mahalawi, the head of the Anbar Operations Command, told al-Sumaria news website on Sunday.
He said at least 16 Daesh terrorists were killed in the operation.
The development comes as army troops, backed by fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units, have been engaged in military operations to win back regions held by Daesh.
The militants have been committing heinous crimes against all ethnic and religious communities in the northern and western parts of Iraq since 2014.
The United Nations (UN) said more than 1,000 people lost their lives and over 1,500 others suffered injuries as a result of acts of terrorism and violence across Iraq in September alone.