Iraqi defence minister asks Turkey to withdraw troops

Iraq`s defence minister said on Sunday he had told his Turkish counterpart that hundreds of Turkish forces deployed inside Iraq near the Islamic State-held city of Mosul had been sent without informing or coordinating with Baghdad.

AFP| Updated: Dec 07, 2015, 00:46 AM IST

Baghdad: Iraq`s defence minister said on Sunday he had told his Turkish counterpart that hundreds of Turkish forces deployed inside Iraq near the Islamic State-held city of Mosul had been sent without informing or coordinating with Baghdad, and should be withdrawn.

Khaled al-Obeidi said in a statement the Turkish defence minister had explained the deployment as necessary to protect Turkish military advisers training Iraqi forces in preparation for a campaign to retake Mosul. 

But Obeidi said the Turkish force was too large for such a purpose.

"No matter the size of the force entering Iraq, it is rejected," the statement said. "It was possible to undertake this sort of prior coordination without creating circumstances which contributed to a crisis between the two countries."

Iraq`s president, prime minister and foreign ministry have all objected to the Turkish deployment in recent days, calling it a hostile act and a violation of international law. Baghdad also summoned the Turkish ambassador to issue a formal protest.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday it was a routine troop rotation and Turkish forces had set up a camp some 30 km (19 miles) northeast of Mosul at the Mosul governor`s request, and in coordination with the Iraqi Defence Ministry.

A small number of Turkish trainers were already at the camp before the latest deployment to train the Hashid Watani (national mobilisation), a force made up of mainly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul, which Islamic State militants seized in June 2014.