Posted on October 17, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Mosul, Politics, Security
A Turkish soldier. Photo: AFP
MOSUL,— Around half of some 3,000 Iraqi forces trained by Turkey at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq are taking part in the operation to drive Islamic State from the city of Mosul, Turkish military sources said on Monday.
Turkey has been locked in a row with Iraq’s central government over the presence of Turkish troops at Bashiqa and over who should take part in the U.S.-backed assault on Mosul.
“Around half of the 3,000 are currently taking part in the operation. The other half are being kept in reserve,” one of the sources told Reuters.
The source said there were Shi’ites, Yazidis and Christians in the force, which also included Turkmen fighters.
“There is currently no participation in the operation by the Turkish military, but developments are being watched very closely,” the source said.
Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, launched their offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State from Mosul, the jihadist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
On October 11, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “know your place,” and said that he is “not on my level.”
The Iraqi parliament, in a majority vote on October 5, rejected the extension of the mandate of Turkish troops in Iraq and called for a review of relations with Turkey.
There are 800 Turkish troops deployed in the Mosul and Shaqlawa regions, the move that sparked a crisis between Ankara and Baghdad. Turkey sent a contingent of an additional 150 forces and 25 tanks in December 2015 to bolster its military presence in the Bashiqa camp, an area that has seen recent fighting.
Iraqi leaders said in December 2015 that hundreds of new Turkish troops had arrived without their knowledge or approval, calling it a violation of its sovereignty.
On October 6, Iraq has requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss Turkey’s military presence on its soil, as a dispute with Ankara over the troops escalated.
According to reports on Sunday, Turkish state have sent reinforcements, which are to participate in Mosul operation, to Bashiqa through Duhok.
Local sources in Duhok city in Iraqi Kurdistan informed Firat News Agency agency that 1,200 Turkish soldiers, 8 tanks and several armored vehicles were deployed to Bashiqa region on Saturday night. Official sources have not yet made a statement on this issue.