Turkey says has duty to protect its soldiers carrying out training in Iraq

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 07, 2015 3:51 AM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has a duty to protect its soldiers around the Islamic State-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul and they are there simply to train and advise Iraqi colleagues, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday Baghdad might turn to the U.N. Security Council if Turkish troops sent to northern Iraq were not withdrawn within 48 hours.

Abadi said the deployment of hundreds of Turkish forces happened without the approval or knowledge of the Iraqi government and described their deployment as a violation of national sovereignty.

But in an interview on Turkey's Kanal 24 television, Cavusoglu said Abadi had repeatedly requested more active Turkish support against Islamic State. He said he believed other countries had played a role in Iraq's reaction.

"It is our duty to provide security for our soldiers providing training there," Cavusoglu said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday the activity was a routine troop rotation to support a camp that Turkish forces had previously set up at the Mosul governor's request and in coordination with the Iraqi Defence Ministry.

But Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said he told his Turkish counterpart the latest deployment had been made without informing or coordinating with Baghdad, and should be withdrawn.

(Reporting by Daren Butler and Orhan Coskun; Writing by Nick Tattersall)