Iraq summons Turkish ambassador to protest troop presence
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador on Thursday to protest the continued presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq without Baghdad's permission, a ministry spokesman said.
Turkish troops are deployed in the Bashiqa area near the jihadist-held city of Mosul, and Turkey's prime minister has said that they will stay despite Baghdad's demands that they be withdrawn.
The Turkish ambassador was given a "a strongly worded formal note of protest" regarding "the continued presence of Turkish forces near Bashiqa and recent abusive statements from their leadership," spokesman Ahmed Jamal said.
Earlier this week, 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."
And Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said last week that the country's forces would stay "no matter what the Iraqi government in Baghdad says."
Abadi has repeatedly demanded that the Turkish troops be withdrawn and said that they will not take part in the impending operation to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State jihadist group.
The US State Department issued a statement earlier this week that implicitly backed Iraq's position, saying that: "We believe all international forces in Iraq should be there with the approval of and in coordination with the government of Iraq."
Iraqi forces are preparing for the operation to retake Mosul from ISIS, which is expected to be the toughest and most complex battle of the country's more than two-year war against the jihadists.
More than 7,000 military personnel from a US-led coalition are deployed in Iraq to support Baghdad's forces, but the coalition has repeatedly stated that the Turkish deployment is not part of its operations.