Turkey started military training in Mosul, governor says
ARBIL - Anadolu Agency
REUTERS PhotoThe Turkish military has started to train Iraqi Sunni fighters on different Iraqi bases to retake Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, according to Asil Nujaifi, the governor of Mosul.
“Experts from Turkey are providing military training to our forces on the bases,” Nujaifi said March 15. “Turkey is assuming a better role on this issue every day, but whether it will join the Mosul operation is related to the talks it will have with the coalition forces. It is very important that Turkey is involved in this operation.”
Last week, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq announced that at least 16,000 Iraqi troops had been trained over the past four months to retake Mosul from ISIL.
The governor said Turkey also promised to send weapons. “We demanded Turkey send weapons to our troops through Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi. We also expressed our military equipment demand to Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz during his official visit in Iraq,” he said. “Turkish authorities have promised to send weapons to our forces receiving training, but we have not been given solid information on when, how and how much this aid will be.”
Expressing his criticisms regarding the central Iraqi government’s upcoming operation to retake Mosul, Nujaifi said Shiite militias acting with the Iraqi forces could cause problems.
“Sectarian forces from far regions could hurt the feelings of the Mosul people during the operation,” the governor said. “That is why we should prepare our forces as soon as possible and try to prevent other forces from joining in the operation.”
Nujaifi said Peshmerga forces would be included in the operation, but they did not want to enter the Mosul city center fearing “political consequences.”
The governor stressed that he could not yet give a specific date for the operation.
He also said the Iraqi government had come to an agreement with the Turkish government regarding the training of militia troops.
Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite militias launched a ground offensive against ISIL on March 2 to recapture Tikrit city, aiming to approach the ISIL stronghold of Mosul.
Tikrit, a Sunni-majority city, is the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.