Iraqi prime minister: Presence of Turkish troops in Iraq hampers effort to liberate Mosul

by WorldTribune Staff, September 19, 2016

Turkey’s military presence in Iraq is a “hostile act” that is impeding the Iraqi army’s plans to liberate Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sept. 18.

“What I want to confirm is that the presence of the Turkish forces on the Iraqi territories is hampering our efforts to eliminate ISIL,” Abadi told reporters at a press conference in Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. /Reuters
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. /Reuters

“If Turkey is serious in fighting ISIL, then they have to withdraw their forces from Iraq,” Abadi said, adding “but Turkey is not willing to end its military presence, and is ignoring the principle of violating the sovereignty of Iraq as an independent country.”

The Turkish government said it would not withdraw its troops from Iraq and insisted the Turkish soldiers are there as part of a training mission.

Abadi said Iraq has no problem with the people and the government of Turkey, “but we have a problem with the (Turkish) mentality that deals with the relations between the two countries. Turkey has to know that Iraq, as a neighboring country, wants to hold ties built on common interests, but sending those troops (in northern Iraq) is poisoning the relations between the two countries.”

Meanwhile, Abadi said Iraq is working out plans for the advance on Mosul.

Abadi did not say whether the predominantly Shi’ite paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units would participate in the battle of the Sunni city of Mosul.

“The national interest of Iraq and the nature of the battle will determine which forces would involve in the battle of Mosul, whether it will be Hashd Shaabi units, army, anti-terrorism, or federal police,” Abadi said.

Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has been under ISIL’s control for more than two years.