The Iraq Defense Ministry has said Turkish troops stationed in northern Iraq, which led to a crisis to erupt between the two countries, are far from being pulled out, despite Turkey's promises to withdraw the additional troops stationed at the camp on Dec. 4.
“In fact, there is no Turkish troop withdrawal. There are just statements from Ankara,” said Iraqi defense ministry spokesman Nasir Nouri Mohammed, Russian media reported. According to the spokesman, Ankara's forces “only slightly relocated near the same positions.”
This cannot even be called a “partial withdrawal,” Nouri Mohammed said, let alone a full withdrawal of the Turkish contingent.
Tension between the two countries has increased dramatically since Turkey reinforced its military deployment in Iraq with about 150 soldiers backed by artillery and around 25 tanks in a base near the Islamic State (IS)-controlled northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 4.
The move infuriated Iraq, as it considered this action a hostile act in violation of its sovereignty to the extent that it brought the issue before the United Nations Security Council, asking the council to use its powers to force Turkey to pull its troops from Iraq.
Turkey withdrew a portion of its troops from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul about two weeks after the deployment, announcing Dec. 19 that it would continue to remove its troops from Bashiqa after insistent appeals from Washington, which included a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama to Erdoğan a day before.
Nouri Mohammed expressed hope that Turkey would follow up on its promises and will proceed to “actually withdraw” of its contingent. Meanwhile, the spokesman reiterated, “no concrete steps” have been taken by Ankara so far.