Turkish troops leaving Iraq’s Bashiqa camp
Some Turkish troops deployed in northern Iraq are leaving the Bashiqa camp, heading north to a yet unknown destination as part of a “new arrangement,” a military source says.
The source told Reuters on Monday that the Turkish forces were leaving the camp, close to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is controlled by Daesh terrorist group.
Baghdad had strongly criticized the Turkish incursion. Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Sunday that Baghdad had submitted a formal complaint to the UN Security Council (UNSC) regarding Turkey’s military moves in northern Iraq.
It is not yet clear whether the troops were moving within Iraq or heading back to Turkey.
On Friday, following talks with Iraqi officials, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office announced in a statement Ankara’s decision to “reorganize” its military personnel at the Bashiqa camp.
“Taking into account the Iraqi government’s sensitivity, the decision was taken to reorganize the military personnel in the protection force at the Bashiqa camp,” Davutoglu’s office said.
Tensions have been running high between Baghdad and Ankara since December 4, when Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province.
Over the past few days, thousands of Iraqi protesters have staged demonstrations across the country to denounce the Turkish deployment of military forces. On December 11, Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also called on the government to show “no tolerance” toward any party that violates the country’s sovereignty.
Ankara claims that its troops have been deployed to northern Iraq to train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against the Daesh terrorist group, and that the move was in line with previous agreements with Baghdad. The Iraqi government, however, denies any such deal.