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Turkey vows to address Iraq’s concerns over troop deployment

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map_of_turkeyTurkey on Friday vowed to address the central Iraqi government’s concerns over a deployment of Turkish troops at a camp close to an Islamic State-held area in northern Iraq.

“It is our duty to address the Baghdad government’s concerns,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a live interview broadcast on the NTV television.

Turkey’s deployment of several hundred troops in Bashiqa, near the key northern Iraqi city of Mosul, has infuriated Baghdad, warning Ankara to withdraw its forces.

Turkey has halted further deployment after Baghdad threatened to take the case to the UN Security Council.

The foreign minister’s conciliatory remarks came after Turkey’s powerful intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu held talks in Baghdad on Thursday.

Cavusoglu said Turkey’s deployment was in response to increased threats against its own trainers in Bashiqa after Turkey’s active participation in the fight against the Islamic State group.

“It (camp) is situated in a region which is very close to Daesh,” Cavusoglu said, using a variant acronym for the IS group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“Especially after starting the fight against Daesh, threats have increased against Turkey and our forces on the ground. It is the Turkish republic’s duty to ensure our troops’ security,” he said.

Cavusoglu said he had spoken on the phone with Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jafari for one and a half hours.

“Daesh still controls around 35 percent of Iraqi territory. Do you (Iraq) have a force to ensure security of our troops providing training there? No. Then who will protect them? We are discussing this.”

The foreign minister said Ankara had stopped further deployment of troops to the region due to “our respect to Iraq and the Baghdad government.”

But he said Turkey and Iraq would decide together if troops needed to be increased or reduced.


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