A mass demonstration was held in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, as tensions escalated between Iraq and Turkey over the deployment of Turkish troops in northern Iraq since the beginning of this month.
The protest, which was organised by several Iraqi Shia groups, attracted over 3,000 protestors on Saturday evening.
Demonstrators said that Turkey’s actions are a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and independence.
The deployment of an additional 150 Turkish troops to a military camp located near Mosul has strained ties between Turkey and Iraq, with Baghdad asking Ankara to withdraw them immediately.
Militiamen in military fatigues, supporters and onlookers gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, chanting, “No to occupation, no to Turkey,” as some young men burned Turkish flags.
“We Iraqis are united as one. We are gathered here to show that we oppose any foreign intervention in our country,” said Hussein, a protestor, who didn’t give his full name.
“It is neither legal nor rational for Turkish troops to enter Iraq. Those who advocate that it is beneficial to have Turkish troops here are those who want to split our country. We are against Turkish intervention,” said Amin, another protestor.
“If our president decides he needs us to join the army and fight against Turkey, we will definitely do that,” he added.
Protestors also held demonstrations throughout the week in several other cities across Iraq.
Although the two countries have conducted several diplomatic conversations in the past weeks, they have not reached consensus on the issue.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday instructed the foreign ministry to lodge an official complaint to the UN Security Council over the issue to call for immediate action from the Turkish government.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would not pull out troops already in Iraq and that the training process “in agreement” with Iraq would continue.