The Iraqi government has demanded that Ankara withdraw the more than 100 Turkish forces that entered Iraq with tanks and artillery for alleged “training” of troops near Islamic State-occupied Mosul. Baghdad stressed the unsanctioned move was a breach of its sovereignty.
The Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement early on Saturday that the Turkish troops were acting in violation of the country’s sovereignty and demanded the forces withdraw immediately. “Around one regiment armoured with tanks and artillery” has entered the northern Nineveh area, according to the statement from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s media office.
The unauthorized presence of Turkish troops in Mosul province is a serious breach of Iraqi sovereignty https://t.co/s051sa8ls6
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) December 4, 2015
However, according to two US defense officials quoted by Reuters, Turkey’s deployment is not part of the efforts of the US-led coalition battling Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
On Friday, 130 Turkish soldiers equipped with heavy weapons were deployed at a military base on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, which is currently held by IS, according to the Daily Sabah newspaper.
According to Cumhuriyet newspaper, the number of the deployed Turkish troops amounts to at least 150.
The town of Bashiqa is located about 10 kilometers northeast of Mosul.
Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, was seized by Islamic State in June 2014 and has been fully governed by militants ever since. Moreover, the extremist group captured large stockpiles of weapons and ammunition that were stored in the city.
“In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with Iraqiya state TV in June. “We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone,” he added.
The Turkish intrusion into Iraq comes shortly after Ankara’s motives in the war on Islamic State have been questioned by Moscow, Tehran, as well as by Baghdad.
The Russian government has been particularly vocal in pointing the finger at the illegal oil trade between IS terrorists and the Turks. Moscow-Ankara relations deteriorated after a Turkish F-16 jet downed a Russian Su-24 bomber on the Syrian-Turkish border for an alleged airspace violation on November 24, while the Russian jet was returning from an anti-terrorist mission. In the days after, the Russian Defense Ministry presented detailed photo and video evidence showing three huge “live pipelines” made of oil trucks effortlessly crossing the Syrian border into Turkey in militant-controlled areas.