Turkey will withdraw more troops from Iraq after US request

AP News
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Posted: Dec 20, 2015 5:16 AM

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey says it will withdraw more troops from northern Iraq and acknowledged there had been a miscommunication with the Iraqi government over the issue.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced late Saturday the government "in recognition of the Iraqi concerns and in accordance with the requirements of the fight against Daesh (Islamic State), is continuing to move military forces from Nineveh province."

The move followed an appeal from President Barak Obama, who called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday and urged him "to take additional steps to de-escalate tensions with Iraq."

The Ankara-Baghdad spat has been an unwelcome setback to U.S. efforts to accelerate the fight against Islamic State extremists. 

Turkey began withdrawing troops stationed near the IS-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul earlier this week. But Baghdad, which considers the deployment of Turkish troops an illegal incursion, demanded the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from Iraqi territory at a U.N. Security Council meeting.

The dispute flared up earlier this month after Turkey deployed reinforcements to a camp in Iraq's Bashiqa region where Sunni and Kurdish troops are being trained to fight IS militants. Turkey has stationed troops there since last year but had recently sent more with the stated aim of protecting its forces from IS attacks.