The Iraqi prime minister has renewed the call for Turkish troops deployed in the country since last year to withdraw as they complicate the battle to retake the northern Daesh stronghold of Mosul.
Haider al-Abadi made the remarks on Thursday, addressing world leaders at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“I call on the international community to support and respect the sovereignty of Iraq and to call on Turkey to withdraw its forces in Iraq, whose presence, despite the rejections from the Iraqi people, hinders our efforts to liberate Nineveh province (Mosul),” Abadi said.
Last December, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s northern Nineveh Province and the country’s second-largest city.
Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh, but Baghdad denounced the unauthorized move as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
In July, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called on Arab states to pressure Turkey into pulling the forces out, saying Turkey was failing to fulfill its pledge to withdraw. He stressed that Iraq had no need for Turkish troops on its soil.
During the Thursday speech, the Iraqi premier also said his country was mostly liberated from Daesh.
He reiterated the pledge for the liberation by year-end of Mosul, which fell to Daesh in 2014, when the group unleashed its campaign of death and destruction in the country.
Also on Thursday, Iraqi security forces announced that they had liberated the town of al-Shirqat, a key Daesh stronghold. The achievement paves the way for the ultimate military campaign to recapture Mosul.
For months, Iraq has been preparing for the assault on Daesh in Mosul. The US military said Wednesday that preparations for the long-anticipated operation would be finished in a matter of days.
Abadi called for a unified push towards eradication of terrorism. “Our delight would come true only when the whole world becomes free from terrorism that threatens our peoples and nations,” he said.
“This requires serious collaboration to besiege terrorism, dry out its ideological and financial resources, and demolish its networks and recruitment hubs which are all over the world,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is widely believed to be the source of the extremist ideology of Wahhabism, which forms the core of Daesh’s mindset. A number of Iraqi officials have accused Saudi Arabia of having a role in the reign of terror which has ravaged their country.