Turkey halts transfer of forces to Mosul, but no pullback: Foreign Ministry
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç. Hürriyet Photo
Ankara has moved to secure a higher level of coordination with Baghdad after the latter condemned the recent deployment of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp in Iraq’s Mosul province, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on Dec. 8.
“We’ll solve this problem and increase coordination to the highest possible level,” Bilgiç said at a press conference, adding that Turkey has halted the transfer of additional forces to the Bashiqa camp but there has been no withdrawal.
Turkish forces have so far trained 2,441 personnel as part of a program being provided to the Mosul National Guards at the Bashiqa camp in coordination with the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi authorities, he also said.
Turkey recently sent additional forces to the camp due to increasing clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Bilgiç stated, adding that Turkey has also trained 2,308 Peshmerga forces so far in a separate training program in Diyala.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart late on Dec. 7 to stress that Ankara “respects its neighbor’s territorial integrity,” Bilgiç also said.
Turkey says its deployment of soldiers to northern Iraq is part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish forces, but the central Iraqi government has slammed the recent deployment of additional forces to the camp, vowing to take its case to the United Nations if they are not pulled out.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said he wants to visit Baghdad as soon as possible to try to calm the row.
“Up to now, 2,000 people have been trained in the Bashiqa camp. This training program was started upon the demand of the Mosul governor. The mentioned increase of troops is a routine development in the face of rising security risks. Those who interpret this differently are making a deliberate provocation,” Davutoğlu said on Dec. 8.
Turkish troops are in Iraq to protect against a possible attack from ISIL, he also stated.