Turkish president tells Al Jazeera troops have been in northern Iraq since 2014, blames Iraq and Iran of sectarianism.
Iraq’s prime minister has ordered his foreign ministry to file an official UN complaint over what he calls a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty” by Turkey.
Haider al-Abadi on Friday said the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq was a “blatant breach of the UN charter” and was not authorised by Iraqi authorities.
“We demand the UN Security Council takes responsibility … to order Turkey to immediately withdraw its troops,” a statement by Abadi’s office said.
An earlier statement by the prime minister’s office said Turkish officials, including its head of intelligence Hakan Fidan, had visited Iraq to try and reach a solution to the crisis.
“The Turkish delegation was told that the only way to resolve the crisis is the full withdrawal of Turkish troops from Iraqi territory, and this will open the way for positive relations,” Thursday’s statement said.
Iraq’s leading Shia religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also criticised the presence of Turkish soldiers on Iraqi territory during a Friday prayers sermon delivered by one of his representatives.
No country should “send its soldiers to the territory of another state under the pretext of supporting it in fighting terrorism without the conclusion of an agreement … between the governments of the two countries,” Sistani said.
Al Jazeera’s Omar al-Saleh, reporting from Istanbul, said the move had more to do with changing sectarian tensions in the region than a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
“Iraq has a Shia-led government and is backed by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia… Turkey and Saudi Arabia accuse this axis of attempting to control and promote sectarianism and aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
Our correspondent also said the recent downing of a Russian fighter jet over the Syrian-Turkish border played a part in Iraq’s move to expel Turkish troops.
Turkey says its soldiers are in Iraq at Abadi’s invitation to train Iraqi government and Kurdish fighters to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, have ruled out withdrawing the troops.
Turkey is viewed suspiciously by the Iraqi government and Ankara has been accused by Baghdad of backing ISIL and Iraqi Kurds.