No Turkish troops to be sent to Mosul: Ankara
REUTERS photoTurkey is not taking part in ground operation for the liberation of Mosul in Iraq, although Ankara has been in talks with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to declare a safe haven in the north of the country, Turkey’s prime minister said.
“There are air and ground units in the coalition forces. Turkey will take part in the air units,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said.
He added that no member in the international anti-ISIL coalition was directly involved in the Mosul operation but that the U.S. was providing logistical support.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also ruled out the participation of Turkish troops in the operation to retake Iraq’s second city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Speaking to journalists at a Justice and Development Party (AKP) members’ meeting in Afyonkarahisar on Oct. 22, he said special forces could be used to support local fighters in the Mosul offensive.
“The land operation must be conducted by the [Iraqi] army instead of different groups. It is out of the question for Turkey or other countries to join in the land operation,” he said. “There are Peshmerga fighters that Turkey has trained and there are Nineveh forces among them. If needed, our special forces can of course join to support the local fighters.”
Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was “currently backing the operation with air support,” but did not elaborate on the role of its power over the operation. Yıldırım also added that they planned to contain the possible refugee influx within the borders of Iraq by forming a safe haven in northern Iraq.
“The Iraqi Kurdish administration is aware of the importance for cooperation on this matter and they are ready to work with Ankara,” Yıldırım said. “We have troops both near Arbil and on the Iraqi side of the Hakkari-Şırnak border region. There are special units deployed there.”
Turkey and the KRG will establish a safe have in northern Iraq to secure the region against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and contain a possible refugee influx, Yıldırım said in a television interview on late Oct. 22. “What we have done in Syria, will be done in Iraq,” he said.
“Declaring a safe haven in the region is required and desired by Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) because, there is a common threat, the PKK, which is a threat to both Turkey and northern Iraq,” he said.
The prime minister also said the KRG and Turkey would further develop cooperation as the Iraqi Kurds are also uncomfortable with the PKK’s presence in the Sinjar region.
“Turkey will not remain a spectator on issues that threaten its security,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 22. “They say ‘Don’t go to al-Bab.’ We are obliged to; we will go there,” Erdoğan said in of Bursa. “We have to prepare a region freed of terror.” Erdoğan also reiterated that if coalition powers would be willing to act jointly, Turkey would do “whatever is necessary in Raqqa” against ISIL.