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MIDEAST >Turkey preparing to be in the field in Mosul operation: Erdoğan

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Turkey is making preparations to enter the field as part of the Mosul operation while also pursuing diplomatic talks with coalition partners, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Oct. 18.

“If we say we want to be both at the table and in the field, there is a reason,” he said. 

Turkey’s march will go through al-Bab after which it will discuss an operation on Raqqa with coalition partners, Erdoğan said, adding that another target of Turkey was to remove the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij.

What you call ‘Baghdad’ is an administrator of an army composed of Shiites. Will we talk to them?” he asked, warning of sectarian conflicts if Shiite militias become involved in the Mosul operation. “They say 30,000 Shiite militants are coming. They should be prepared for what they will face.”


Those who “play tough” against Turkey would be better off dealing with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) elements in Iraq, the president said. 

Erdoğan also called on the United States to better assess Turkey’s position in the Mosul operation and reiterated that Ankara would be part of the offensive. 

Recalling that Turkey was a NATO member, he said: “Do you have a NATO partnership with Iraq? No. Then you can’t put us in a position of preference against Iraq. You said Afghanistan. Was it Iraq that walked with you [in Afghanistan]? Did countries other than NATO allies join in the Afghanistan [war]? It was us carrying out this struggle with you.”

The YPG will be removed from the Syrian town of Manbij after ISIL fighters are driven from the nearby town of al-Bab, Erdoğan also said Oct. 18.

Discussions were underway with the U.S. about a possible joint operation to push ISIL from the Syrian town of Raqqa, Erdoğan said. Turkey aimed to create a “safe zone” covering 5,000 square kilometers in northern Syria, he said.


Turkish jets to join Mosul offensive when required 

Addressing his deputies, Prime Minister Binali YIldınım said there was a consensus on Ankara’s involvement in the U.S.-led coalition for the operation to retake Mosul from ISIL. Yıldırım clarified his earlier statement that Turkish jets had been involved in an aerial campaign in the Mosul offensive. 

When asked about his remarks during his address to his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting, Yıldırım said Turkish warplanes would join the operations in Mosul “when necessary.”

“In principal, there is a consensus on [Turkish] involvement in the coalition,” Yıldırım told reporters.

“I do not know the details of the operations but of course it is important to be involved in the coalition,” he added.

Turkey has continuously cautioned the U.S. and the European Union about the region’s sensitivities, he said.

“We have frequently warned about the ethnic sensitivities of the region and indicated the sectarian sensitivities.”

Turkey has been locked in a row with Baghdad about the presence of its troops at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq and over who should take part in the U.S.-backed assault on Mosul. Turkey has trained up to 3,000 forces taking part but is concerned the operation could stoke sectarian tensions.

October/18/2016

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