Iraq calls on NATO to pressure Turkey into withdrawing troops
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on NATO to pressure Turkey into recalling its troops from the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.
According to a statement released by the Iraqi government on Tuesday, Abadi made the request during a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“NATO must use its authority to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory,” read the statement issued after a 48-hour deadline for the troops’ removal expired.
Despite Iraq’s ultimatum, Ankara still has some 150 heavily-armed soldiers stationed on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province.
Turkey refuses to recall its troops claiming they are stationed there to train Iraqi forces battling the Daesh Takfiri militants.
During a press conference in the Ankara on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that further troops deployment will be halted but those already stationed will not be withdrawn.
On Tuesday, following a UN Security Council meeting, called by Russia, over Ankara’s military activities in Iraq and Syria, Russia voiced hopes that Ankara would avoid escalating tensions in the region.
“We hope that this concern that the UN secretary general and several members of the Security Council had shown during the meeting we had convened, will cool down the hot heads in Ankara, that they will settle the situation in Iraq in the way that would satisfy the Iraqi government,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.
He also expressed hope that Turkey “will not carry out any new reckless moves, including on the Syrian territory.”
Ties between Moscow and Ankara have been strained after Turkish jets shot down a Russian fighter plane on November 24.
Moscow has imposed a number of economic sanctions against Ankara following the incident.