As the operation to liberate the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh terrorist group approaches, tensions between Ankara and Baghdad are escalating over Turkey's possible military involvement in the offensive.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan once again rejected Baghdad’s objections to the presence of its forces in northern Iraq, claiming Ankara seeks to prevent the Mosul battle from turning into a “sectarian one” and causing “blood and fire” in the Middle East.
He further claimed that Turkey is being “indecently” assaulted on the issue of Mosul.
The comments came hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi took to his Twitter account to dismiss Erdogan’s earlier remarks that Turkish forces must be included in Mosul operation.
“We will liberate our land through the determination of our men and not by video calls,” Abadi wrote on his Twitter account late on Tuesday.
He was scoffing at the Turkish president’s nationally broadcast video call amid the failed July 15 coup attempt.
‘Hashd al-Shaabi to defend Iraq sovereignty’
Also on Tuesday,Secretary General of Iraq’s Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri censured Erdogan’s Tuesday comments about Ankara’s military presence in the Arab country, saying pro-government Popular Mobilization Units will not allow any violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
He said Hashd al-Shaabi fighters will not compromise over Iraq’s sovereignty at all, emphasizing that the Iraqi territory is off limits to any party casting greedy eyes on it.
Anyone wishing to try his luck could opt for an invasion against the country and see the results, Ameri pointed out.
He further noted that Daesh will be completely purged out of the Iraqi soil once Hawijah town in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh, as well as areas located between the western towns of Haditha and al-Qaim are liberated.
Ameri’s remarks were echoed by the spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Units, who warned Erdogan of “a strong and poignant response” in a press statement.
Ahmed al-Assadi said his fellow fighters tend to teach the opposite side its place once they enter the battlefield.
Erdogan on Tuesday snubbed Abadi’s criticism of the presence of Turkish soldiers in Iraq ahead of a planned operation to retake Mosul.
“He is insulting me personally. You are not my interlocutor; you are not at my level. It’s not important at all how you shout from Iraq. You should know that we will do what we want to do. Know your place first!” the Turkish president told a meeting in Istanbul.
Baghdad government later criticized Erdogan’s “irresponsible” remarks.
The Iraqi premier’s spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said the Turkish leader was “pouring oil on the fire” with his comments and showed Ankara was not serious about resolving the dispute.
The Iraqi army and pro-government forces have been preparing for months for the assault on Daesh in Mosul, which slipped into the hands of the terrorists in 2014.
This is while Turkish officials have frequently stated that the country’s military forces would play a role in the offensive. Ankara maintains an estimated 2,000 troops in Iraq. Around 500 of the soldiers are deployed to the Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq.