Iraqi PM asks NATO to press Turkey to pull troops from north Iraq

Iraqi PM asks NATO to press Turkey to pull troops from north Iraq

ANKARA - Reuters
Iraqi PM asks NATO to press Turkey to pull troops from north Iraq

AP photo

Iraq asked NATO on Dec. 8 to put pressure on alliance member Turkey to withdraw its troops immediately from northern Iraq after Ankara said it would not deploy any more but refused to pull out those already there.

The arrival of a heavily armed Turkish contingent near the frontline close to Mosul has added yet another controversial deployment to a war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that has drawn in most of the world's major powers. 

"NATO must use its authority to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement, posted after a 48-hour deadline set by Baghdad for a withdrawal of the troops expired. 

Abadi spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone, the statement added, calling the deployment a violation of Iraq's sovereignty. 

Russia, already furious with Ankara after the Turkish airforce shot down one of its jets flying over Syria last month, said it considered the Turkish force's presence in Iraq illegal. 

Ankara says its troops are in Iraq to train Iraqi forces. "Training at this camp began with the knowledge of the Iraqi defence ministry and police," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a meeting of deputies from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

The foreign ministry said Turkey had stopped the deployment two days ago due to the "sensitivities" of Iraqi authorities. 

Baghdad has denied it knew about the mission. Russia has asked the United Nations Security Council to hold closed-door discussions, due later on Dec. 8, on Turkish military action in both Iraq and Syria. 

The Pentagon urged Turkey and Iraq to resolve the issue diplomatically, and noted the Turkish deployment was not part of a U.S.-led coalition battling the ISIL. 

"We just encourage both sides to resolve their differences here, whatever disagreements there may be," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing on Dec. 8.