Turkey: Bashiqa attack proves decision to send troops
DHA PhotoTurkey has argued that an attack at a base in northern Iraq where Turkish troops are stationed justified its decision to send additional forces to protect its personnel there.
“We are facing such developments in Iraq and Syria so that security of our borders starts from beyond the borders. At this conjuncture, eliminating threats directed at your borders with measures that you would only take at your borders get complicated,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters late on Dec. 18, when asked whether Turkey would consider sending back its forces to the Bashiqa area.
Davutoğlu was speaking at a press conference in Ankara shortly after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fired rockets at the base in northern Iraq where Turkish troops are stationed.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said in a statement its soldiers returned fire, and four had been lightly injured when katyusha rockets landed in their camp north of the ISIL stronghold of Mosul.
Turkey deployed around 150 troops in the Bashiqa area earlier this month with the stated aim of training an Iraqi militia to fight ISIL. The Iraqi government says the soldiers are not welcome and must withdraw. Turkey withdrew some troops earlier this week, moving them to another base inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should pull out completely.
“This incident also showed there are risks if you want to train our Iraqi siblings. You need to take measures that would eliminate those risks against trainers and trainees. Therefore, this incident has displayed righteousness of the steps that we took for fortification of that area in the previous days. We will share this with the friendly and fraternal Iraqi government. Our ambassador will present the required briefing,” Davutoğlu said.
In a written statement released late on Dec. 18, the Turkish Foreign Ministry echoed Davutoğlu’s view, saying that the attack proved the decision to send additional forces had been correct.
“This attack showed how legitimate our concerns were about the security of the Bashiqa camp,” the ministry said.
“We offer condolences to our martyred Iraqi brothers’ families and the Iraqi people, and wish the injured a speedy recovery,” the ministry also said.