Turkish forces in Iraq with Government consent: US official
Washington ( Anadolu Agency + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Turkish forces entered Iraq with Baghdad’s consent, a senior State Department official said Thursday.
The Turkish military “began to train some of these forces on the ground at the invitation of the Iraqi government”, according to the official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The official stressed that as long as Turkish forces continue to have the consent of Iraq’s government their presence there is “fine”.
“They need to be coordinated with the Iraqi government,” he said.
Turkey and Iraq have engaged in a war of words about the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq’s Bashiqa.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi asked for the formation of a military base in Bashiqa. Erdogan told Abadi to “know his limits,” reminding him that Turkey’s military presence in Iraq was due to a demand made by Baghdad.
The countries have summoned respective ambassadors for consultations.
The spat “is not constructive”, the U.S. official said as anti-Daesh forces prepare to oust the group from its Iraqi capital, Mosul.
Turkey says its troops are going to be there to prevent any potential sectarian conflict in and around Mosul after the city is taken from Daesh.
The operation could begin as soon as next week if preparations are completed.
Turkish-trained fighters to join Mosul operation
Turkish-trained fighters at Camp Bashiqa in northern Iraq will join an upcoming operation to clear Daesh from Mosul, sources familiar with meetings between Turkey and the U.S. said on Friday.
Fighters in Bashiqa will join Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Regional Government fighters, known as peshmerga, the sources — who wished to remain anonymous — said.
The operation is expected to start in a few days provided nothing extraordinary occurred, the sources added.
In the first stage, Iraqi soldiers would attack Mosul from surrounding fronts, followed by the Turkish-trained fighters and peshmerga forces.
The forces trained at Camp Bashiqa were previously known as al-Hashd al-Watani but have been recently dubbed the Nineveh Guard.
According to the sources, the leader of the Nineveh Guard, Atheel al-Nujaifi held talks with the Iraqi army and agreed his forces would operate as one unit.
According to the plan, the Iraqi army, Shia militias, Kurdish regional government forces and the Nineveh Guard will advance north to Mosul from Qayyarah town simultaneously.
Mosul would be surrounded from the south, east and north.
In mid-2014, the Daesh terrorist group captured the northern city of Mosul and overran vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.
Recent months have seen the army, backed by a 60-nation air coalition led by the U.S., retake much territory. Nevertheless, the terrorist group remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.
The Iraqi army and its allies are now gradually advancing on Mosul, which officials in Baghdad have vowed to “liberate” by year’s end.