Turkish military to have a base in Iraq's Mosul
This still image taken from a video shared on the social media reportedly shows Turkish tanks being deployed to Mosul's Bashiqa region.
Turkey will have a permanent military base in the Bashiqa region of Mosul as the Turkish forces in the region training the Peshmerga forces have been reinforced, Hürriyet reported.
The deal regarding the base was signed between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, during the latter’s visit to northern Iraq on Nov. 4.
At least 150 Turkish soldiers, accompanied by 20-25 tanks, were deployed to the area by land late on Dec. 4, Anadolu Agency reported.
Turkish army sources told Anadolu Agency on Dec. 5 that they had been training fighters across four provinces in northern Iraq to fight ISIL.
According to the military, the Peshmerga forces have been trained for fighting with homemade explosives, heavy machine guns, mortars, artillery and also received first-aid training.
More than 2,500 Peshmerga, including high-ranking officers, have attended the Turkish training, the military added.
The KRG’s deputy Peshmerga minister, Major General Karaman Kemal Omar, said that the training given by Turkish soldiers made a huge contribution to an operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces to retake Sinjar district from ISIL on Nov. 12.
Sinjar is a town located 120 kilometers west of Mosul with an Ezidi majority. It fell to ISIL in August 2014.
Some 150 Turkish soldiers and 20 tanks were deployed to the base to take over the mission from the 90 soldiers who have been in the region for two years.
With the increased number of Turkish soldiers deployed to the base, an increase is expected in the number of militia trained.
ISIL militants overran Mosul, a city of more than one million people, in June 2014, but a much anticipated counter-offensive by Iraqi forces has been repeatedly postponed because they are involved in fighting elsewhere.
A statement from the Iraqi prime minister's media office confirmed that Turkish troops numbering "around one armed battalion with a number of tanks and cannons" had entered its territory near Mosul without request or permission from Baghdad authorities. It called on the forces to leave immediately.
In a separate statement flashed on state TV, the Iraqi foreign ministry called the Turkish activity "an incursion" and rejected any military operation that was not coordinated with the federal government, Reuters reported.
In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said that the United States was aware of Turkey's deployment of hundreds of Turkish soldiers to northern Iraq but that the move is not part of the U.S.-led coalition's activities.
Another senior Turkish official told Reuters the soldiers in the region were there to train the Peshmerga forces.
"This is part of the fight against Daesh [ISIL]," he said, adding that there were around 20 armored vehicles accompanying them as protection.