US urges Turkey to withdraw troops from Iraq
WASHINGTON / ANKARAU.S. President Barack Obama has urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pull troops out of Iraq, amid a row that has split key members of the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Obama "urged President Erdogan to take additional steps to deescalate tensions with Iraq, including by continuing to withdraw Turkish military forces," the White House said on Dec. 18 after a phone call between the two leaders.
Obama also "reinforced the need for Turkey to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq."
President Erdoğan reiterated that Turkish troops in northern Iraq were there to fight against ISIL, according to a statement by the President’s Office. Turkey supports and respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, Erdoğan added.
The leaders also discussed the fight against ISIL militants in Syria including efforts to support the moderate opposition in the war-torn nation, the White House said.
The conversation came after Turkish troops were wounded when a training base in northern Iraq was hit by ISIL on Dec. 16.
The two leaders agreed that Turkey, the U.S. and Iraq should cooperate to ease the tensions and fight against ISIL in the region, according to Ankara.
The Iraqi government has demanded the "complete withdrawal" of Turkish forces from its territory, indicating Ankara's partial pullout was not enough.
Perennially embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has faced intense political pressure to end the Turkish deployment.
Turkey said it had deployed troops and tanks to a military camp in northern Iraq earlier this month to protect Turkish trainers working with anti-ISIL groups.