Turkish troops to withdraw from Bashiqa ‘if security maintained’
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
AA photoTurkish troops will no longer be needed at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq if the area’s security is maintained, Defense Minister Fikri Işık told Iraqi Ambassador to Turkey Dr. Hisham al-Alawi on Nov. 10, in a rare meeting amid strained ties between Ankara and Baghdad over the Turkish deployment in the neighboring country.
The latest developments regarding operations in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were assessed in the meeting, scheduled on Iraqi officials’ request, sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
During the meeting, Işık reportedly underlined the importance of Iraq’s territorial integrity and highlighted the local forces that Turkey trained in Bashiqa to contribute to the international coalition’s aims to clear out ISIL and other terrorist groups.
He also stressed that Turkish troops would not be necessary in Bashiqa “if security and stability is maintained in Iraq.”
The Turkish minister welcomed the Iraqi army’s advance in northern Iraq against ISIL, while warning about the risks that could arise if foreign Shia militias enter the predominantly Sunni provinces of Tel Afar and Mosul.
Meanwhile, Işık also noted that the activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are against both Turkey and Iraq, stressing that Ankara would not allow the PKK to settle in the Sinjar region of the neighboring country, sources said.
They added that both parties agreed to continue bilateral dialogue in order to eliminate disagreements in the coming period.