Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has reiterated his government's resolve to maintain a military presence in northern Iraq until Mosul is “liberated.”
The Iraqi central government and their armed forces have failed to take effective measures in the face of attacks by the Islamic State (IS), Davutoğlu said in a televised address to the nation late on Dec. 27.
“In line with appeals from the Iraqi authorities, we are providing training and equipment support to both the Peshmerga and local volunteers from Mosul,” Davutoğlu said, noting that the fall of a city like Mosul, the second largest province in the country, to IS has once more displayed the need for international support and cooperation along with local forces against threats posed by IS.
“Our support will continue until Mosul is liberated,” he added.
Relations between Turkey and Iraq have been tense since Dec. 4, when Turkey deployed additional troops, hundreds of commandos and a small mechanized unit to the Bashiqa camp, which lies near IS-held Mosul. The move infuriated Iraq to the extent that it brought the issue before the United Nations Security Council, asking it to use it powers to force Turkey to pull its troops from Iraq.
Turkey removed a portion of its troops from the Bashiqa camp more than a week after their deployment but this effort failed to calm Iraq's anger over the issue.
Turkey announced Dec. 19 that it would continue to remove its troops from Bashiqa upon insistent appeals from Washington, which included a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a day before.
On Dec. 20, Baghdad welcomed Turkey's move to pull the troops but said it would keep up efforts at the U.N. to achieve a full withdrawal.
“We have to take all kinds of measures including rearranging troops and ammunition for the security of the training unit that we sent” Davutoğlu said late Dec. 27 in his monthly address titled “On the Road to a New Turkey.”
“The basic goal of the troops that we additionally sent to the region is to better protect our trainees on duty against Daesh and Mosul's people” he said, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym. “As long as the threat of terror remains, we will continue to be on full alert in a way that will not endanger our presence there in any way.”