Turkey pulls 350 troops from border after Iraq’s ultimatum
Turkey has pulled 350 troops back from the Turkish-Iraqi border after reaction from Baghdad over the deployment of more Turkish soldiers in Mosul.
The troops are waiting on the border and will be sent to Iraq if Ankara and Baghdad agreed on the issue, sources told Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey has deployed nearly 600 troops to train Iraqi Sunni local guards in Mosul.
Defending its troop movement into the Iraqi territory, Turkey said it has a duty to protect its soldiers who are on a training mission in the Islamic State (IS)-controlled city of Mosul.
Turkey said hundreds of forces were sent to a camp in the Bashiqa region of northern Iraq on Thursday as part of a training program to help Iraqis retake Mosul from IS, and to ensure the safety of Turkish military trainers.
But Baghdad said Turkish troops moved into the Iraqi territory without informing or coordinating with them, and should be immediately withdrawn.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Sunday that Iraq might turn to the UN Security Council if the troops were not withdrawn within 48 hours, describing their deployment as an incursion and a violation of national sovereignty.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, defended his country’s action saying Abadi had repeatedly sought more active Turkish support against IS.
He said other countries might have played a role in Iraq’s reaction. However, he did not elaborate.
“It is our duty to provide security for our soldiers providing training there,” Cavusoglu told a local channel.
Ankara summons Russian envoy
Turkey summoned Russia’s ambassador in Ankara after a Russian warship sailed through the Bosporus on Sunday with a soldier holding a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile on the deck throughout the journey, an incident that Turkey called “provocative,” a Turkish broadcaster has reported.
According to the CNN Türk news station, Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov was summoned to Turkish Foreign Ministry headquarters on Monday.
Photos of the Russian soldier holding the missile on his shoulder, ready to fire, atop the landing ship Caesar Kunikov throughout the ship’s passage through the Bosporus were circulated on social media.
Çavuşoğlu termed the incident provocative and said Turkey has made the necessary response to Sunday’s incident.
“The ship’s passage in such a way was an openly provocative passage. This has to end,” Çavuşoğlu said, but did not provide further details on a response.
The crossing of the Russian warship through the Turkish straits comes amid escalating tension between the two countries after Turkish F-16s downed a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border recently.
Turkey said the plane was downed because it violated Turkish airspace, while Russia denied a violation had occurred and vowed serious consequences as a result.