Iraq: '24 hours left' for Turkey to withdraw troops

Comment comes after Ankara told Baghdad it would not send more troops, but stopped short of agreeing to remove forces.

    Iraq: '24 hours left' for Turkey to withdraw troops
    Davutoglu said the presence of Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq calling it a routine rotation to train Iraqis to retake Mosul from ISIL [AP]

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Turkey that "only 24 hours" were left for Ankara to remove forces it sent to the north of his country without permission.

    "We must be prepared and ready to defend Iraq and its sovereignty," said Abadi, who visited Iraq's air force headquarters on Monday, according to his office.

    "The air force has the capability... to protect Iraq and its borders from any threat it faces."

    Earlier on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Abadi in a letter that Ankara would halt further transfers of troops to Iraq until Baghdad's "sensitivities" were placated, but did not agree to withdraw the existing force from the country.

    "No further forces will be deployed to Bashiqa until concerns of the Iraqi government are overcome," the letter said, the Reuters news agency said, citing sources at the prime minister's office in Ankara.

    Those who are disturbed by the cooperation of Turkey and Iraq and who want to end it should not be allowed to attain their goal.

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu 

    "Turkey is ready to deepen its cooperation with Iraq in coordination and consultation. Those who are disturbed by the cooperation of Turkey and Iraq and who want to end it should not be allowed to attain their goal," it said.

    Turkey deployed hundreds of personnel to a camp in the Bashiqa region near the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-controlled city of Mosul, calling it a routine rotation to train Iraqis to retake Mosul.

    Davutoglu earlier said the activity was set up at the Mosul governor's request and in coordination with the Iraqi Defence Ministry.

    'Crisis'

    Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said he told his Turkish counterpart the latest deployment had been made without informing or coordinating with Baghdad, and should be withdrawn.

    He said the Turkish defence minister had explained the deployment as necessary to protect military advisers training Iraqi forces some 30 km northeast of Mosul in preparation for a campaign to retake the city. But Obeidi said the force was too large for such a purpose.

    "No matter the size of the force entering Iraq, it is rejected," the statement said. "It was possible to undertake this sort of prior coordination without creating circumstances which contributed to a crisis between the two countries."

    NATO member Turkey has been bombing Kurdish militant positions in northern Iraq. It is also part of the US-led coalition fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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