Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the Iraqi territory, stating that he would not agree to the participation of their forces in the forthcoming operation to liberate the strategic northern city of Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
Speaking at a press conference in the holy shrine city of Karbala on Sunday, Abadi condemned the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil as violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, pointing out that the Turkish military deployment in Iraq is unacceptable for bilateral relations between Baghdad and Ankara, Arabic-language al-Sumaria satellite television network reported.
He also expressed great astonishment at Turkish authorities’ insistence on keeping their soldiers in Iraq.
Abadi was reacting to his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim’s remarks on October 6 that Turkish troops will maintain presence in northern Iraq “no matter what Baghdad says.”
The Iraqi prime minister further underscored that he would not let Turkish military forces play a role in the forthcoming offensive to retake Mosul, which is Iraq’s second-largest city and the main stronghold of Daesh terrorists in the crisis-hit Arab country.
The Turkish leadership will also have to stop thinking that their troops are here in Iraq on picnic, Abadi noted.
On Friday, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit stated that the 22-member regional organization of Arab countries rejects Turkey’s troop deployment and military intervention in Iraq, supports the security, stability and unity of Iraq, and refuses any outside interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Earlier, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting over the presence of several hundred Turkish troops inside Iraq, and Turkish parliament’s decision to extend the deployment by another year.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Faruk Kaymakci over the extension on Wednesday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also summoned Iraq’s Ambassador to Ankara Hisham Ali Akbar Ibrahim Alawi in a tit-for-tat move, voicing Ankara’s protest over the Iraqi lawmakers’ rejection of the October 1 decision.
Earlier this week, Abadi stated that his country “does not want to enter into a military confrontation with Turkey,” adding that “the behavior of the Turkish leadership is not acceptable by any standard.”
The Iraqi army and pro-government forces have been preparing for months to attack Daesh in Mosul, which fell into the hands of the terrorists in 2014.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Iraq says an estimated 700,000 people would need assistance once the offensive gets underway.