Iraq Protests Over Turkish Troop Deployment

Iraq Protests Over Turkish  Troop DeploymentIraq Protests Over Turkish  Troop Deployment

Turkey committed a “hostile act” by deploying troops to northern Iraq, according to the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad. Turkey claims it only reinforced an existing training camp for local volunteers.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador on Saturday to demand an immediate withdrawal of the troops, Baghdad officials said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, Turkey sent “one armored regiment with a number of tanks and artillery” across the Iraqi border, according to a statement from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Hundreds of Turkish troops are now stationed near Mosul, one of the key cities held by the “Islamic State” militant group, according to the authorities in Baghdad, AFP reported.

On Saturday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry described the troop presence as a “hostile act,” adding that Ankara did not inform Baghdad of its intentions.

The Turkish deployment was not part of the US-led efforts against the IS, officials in Washington said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the deployment was a “routine rotation activity” and “reinforcement against security risks” in a preexisting training camp.

Ankara created the site almost a year ago in coordination with the Iraqi Defense Ministry, according to Davutoglu.

Turkish military instructors are active in a number of camps on Iraqi territory, located within the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. The compound near Mosul is in the area claimed by both the Iraqi Kurds and the central government in Baghdad.

IS militants seized Mosul in June 2014, inflicting a serious defeat on Iraqi troops. The Baghdad forces have since repeatedly postponed a planned counter offensive to retake the strategic city.