Turkish security forces kill 18 ISIL attackers in Iraq
AA photoTurkish forces have killed 18 members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after jihadists tried to sneak into a training camp in the Bashiqa region of northern Iraq late on Jan. 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed on Jan. 8.
“I have been told that some 18 Daesh terrorists who tried to sneak into the Bashiqa camp were neutralized,” Erdoğan said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL while preferring the word “neutralized” which may be employed to mean either killed or apprehended.
"There are no wounded friends; we have no such knowledge at the moment,” Erdoğan added, referring to reports of Turkish soldiers being wounded in the attack.
“Of course this [attack] only proves just how appropriate was the step taken regarding the camp,” he said, referring to Turkey’s decision to send reinforcement units to the camp in early December.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told the media in Istanbul that Turkish presence in Bashiqa was “only against Daesh” and a “natural consequence” of Turkey’s efforts to fight against terrorism along with the international coalition and the Iraqi government.
Davutoğlu added that Turkey had no other “agenda or secret goal” in Iraq.
“When the central Iraqi government gains control of the whole region so as to protect its sovereignty, then there will not be a need for Turkish presence,” he said, reiterating Turkey’s commitment to Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
He also said that northern Iraq was an issue of national security for Turkey since the “presence of PKK and Daesh threatens Turkey more than any other country.”
Turkish sources also told the Hürriyet Daily News that 17 ISIL members were killed in the third ISIL attack against the camp since Turkey deployed additional forces in Bashiqa.
The first attack on the military camp, which is relatively close to ISIL-held Mosul, occurred on Dec. 16, 2015, when ISIL militants fired Katyusha projectiles at the camp.
Five Turkish soldiers sustained injuries on Dec. 27, 2015, in the second attack on the camp.
Turkey deployed around 150 troops to the Bashiqa area earlier this month with the stated aim of training an Iraqi militia to fight ISIL.
The Turkish soldiers’ presence in Iraq recently turned into a row between the two neighboring countries when an additional deployment of Turkish troops to the camp kicked off an angry exchange between the two capitals.
Turkey said on Dec. 14, 2015, that some of its troops had begun leaving as part of reorganization, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s spokesman said more soldiers would have to be removed before Iraq was satisfied.
On Jan. 6, U.S. President Obama called Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi of Iraq to congratulate him on Iraqi forces’ recent successes in Ramadi and to underscore the United States’ enduring support for Iraq in its fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). During the call, Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and called on Turkey to do the same by withdrawing any military forces that have not been authorized by the Iraqi government.
“There is not any contradiction between remarks attributed to Obama and our approach. From the very beginning, our presence in Iraq is within the knowledge of Iraqi authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç told reporters in response to questions on Jan. 8.
“Our security authorities confirmed that an attack directed at the base zone in Bashiqa took place as of last night. Martyring or injury is out of question,” Bilgiç also said.