Iraqi fficial denies US claims on Iraq-Turkey military cooperation deal
An Iraqi official has denied US claims that Iraq and Turkey have reached a provisional agreement authorizing Turkish involvement in ongoing operations to liberate Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
The official, who was speaking anonymously, said Baghdad expected Ankara to stand by Iraq in the war on the Takfiri terrorist group and not violate Iraqi territory, al-Sumaria TV network reported on Friday.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who was visiting the Turkish capital earlier in the day, had said Ankara and Baghdad had agreed “in principle” to enable cooperation in the battle for Mosul but the details were yet to be set out.
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, which has been under Daesh control since June 2014.
Baghdad has denounced the unauthorized move as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and said the forces could complicate the battle to retake Mosul.
Daesh has named Mosul as its so-called headquarters, and large-scale operations have been going on since last Sunday.
Turkey has been insisting since before the battle for Mosul began that its forces take part in the operation.
Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik, who met with visiting Carter, told state broadcaster TRT that the United States was also keen to work with Turkey on a campaign to drive Daesh from Raqqah, Daesh’s self-proclaimed headquarters in Syria.
On Thursday, the Turkish army said its jets had conducted 26 airstrikes against Kurdish fighters, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), in Syria, bombing 18 of their positions, and killing up to 200 Kurdish fighters.
The bombing against the fighters was followed by a warning from the Syrian military, which said it would intercept and bring down any Turkish fighter jets entering the country’s airspace.