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Erdogan says it is out of question Turkish troops will leave Iraq

By Reuters - Dec 10,2015 - Last updated at Dec 10,2015

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said it was out of the question that Turkish troops would withdraw from Iraq after Baghdad accused Ankara of deploying soldiers there without permission.

The row has badly soured relations between the two countries and saw the Turkish ambassador to Iraq summoned on Saturday to demand that Turkey immediately withdraw hundreds of troops deployed in recent days to northern Iraq, near the Daesh-controlled city of Mosul.

Iraq's foreign ministry said Turkish forces had entered Iraqi territory without the knowledge of Baghdad, who view their presence as a "hostile act".

Speaking at a press conference, Erdogan said that the troops were there for training Kurdish peshmerga fighters and not combat purposes. He also reiterated an earlier statement that they were deployed following an invitation by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi last year.

"The number of our soldiers [in northern Iraq] might increase or decreased depending on the number of peshmerga being trained," Erdogan stated. "Withdrawing our soldiers is out of the question for the moment."

Erdogan said there would be a trilateral meeting between Turkey, the United States and Kurdish northern Iraqi authorities on December 21 but made no mention of a possible meeting with Baghdad.


Speaking to his counterpart earlier this week, the Turkish foreign minister emphasised Ankara's respect for Iraqi territorial integrity and said further troop deployments had been halted for now.

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