Turkish military presence in Bashiqa 'to continue': PM
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday that Turkey's military presence in Bashiqa would continue despite the Iraqi parliament’s mislabeling Turkish troops in the country as “occupiers”, Anadolu reported.
"Our aim is to prevent more human tragedy and more bloodshed [in the region]," Yildirim told a news conference in the capital Ankara.
"Turkey has always been in the region throughout history," the Turkish premier said, adding that Baghdad has no right to say inappropriate words towards Turkey while there are many countries in the region which have no bond with Iraq.
Yildirim also said the label was improper considering Iraq's indifferent attitude towards the PKK terrorist group, which has been taking shelter in the country for decades.
"It is nonsense for Iraq to focus on Turkey's military presence [in Bashiqa] while putting aside troops from 63 countries in the country with the same aim as Turkey, which is combatting terror and Daesh," he said.
Iraq’s parliament urged the government Tuesday to send a diplomatic note to the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad describing Turkish troops training forces against Daesh as “hostile occupying forces”. They also called for a reassessment of trade and economic ties with Turkey.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Iraq’s ambassador in Ankara over the incident.
In turn, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Baghdad.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed what it described as the Iraqi parliament's "mischaracterization" of the Turkish military presence in Bashiqa.
"We strongly condemn the Iraqi parliament's unacceptable assertions, including baseless accusations leveled against the Turkish President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan]," the ministry declared in a statement.
In 2007, Turkey’s parliament gave a mandate to the country’s armed forces to take military action against terrorist groups in Iraq. In 2014, with the emergence of the Daesh terrorist group, that mandate was expanded to include Syria.
Last week, the Turkish parliament renewed the mandate, drawing criticism from certain Iraqi political circles.
Last December, Turkey sent some 150 troops and about two dozen combat tanks to Camp Bashiqa, located some 12 kilometers (7.46 miles) northeast of the Daesh-held city of Mosul.
The deployment -- which was criticized at the time by Baghdad -- was aimed at protecting Turkish military personnel tasked with training Iraqi volunteers to fight Daesh.