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Iraqi defence minister asks Turkey to withdraw troops (Updated)

Iraq’s defence minister said on Sunday he had told his Turkish counterpart that hundreds of Turkish forces deployed inside Iraq near the Islamic State-held city of Mosul had been sent without informing or coordinating with Baghdad, and should be withdrawn.

Khaled al-Obeidi said in a statement the Turkish defence minister had explained the deployment as necessary to protect Turkish military advisers training Iraqi forces in preparation for a campaign to retake Mosul.

But Obeidi said the Turkish force was too large for such a purpose.

“No matter the size of the force entering Iraq, it is rejected,” the statement said. “It was possible to undertake this sort of prior coordination without creating circumstances which contributed to a crisis between the two countries.”

Iraq’s president, prime minister and foreign ministry have all objected to the Turkish deployment in recent days, calling it a hostile act and a violation of international law. Baghdad also summoned the Turkish ambassador to issue a formal protest.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday it was a routine troop rotation and Turkish forces had set up a camp some 30 km (19 miles) northeast of Mosul at the Mosul governor’s request, and in coordination with the Iraqi Defence Ministry.

A small number of Turkish trainers were already at the camp before the latest deployment to train the Hashid Watani (national mobilisation), a force made up of mainly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul, which Islamic State militants seized in June 2014.


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