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Iraqi president says Turkish deployment inside Iraq violates int’l law

By Reuters - Dec 05,2015 - Last updated at Dec 05,2015

BAGHDAD — Iraqi President Fouad Massoum on Saturday called the deployment of several hundred Turkish troops inside Iraq near the northern city of Mosul "a violation of international norms and law".

But Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the troop rotation was routine and the camp had originally been set up in coordination with Iraqi authorities.

A Turkish security source said on Friday the forces would provide training for Iraqi troops near Mosul, which is controlled by the Daesh terror group.

Iraq's prime minister and foreign ministry have called for Turkey to withdraw its forces.

In an online statement, Massoum also called on Turkey to withdraw the troops and asked Iraq's foreign ministry to take the necessary measures "to preserve the country's sovereignty and independence".

Daesh militants overran Mosul in June 2014. A much anticipated counteroffensive by Iraqi forces has been repeatedly postponed because they are tied down in fighting elsewhere.

Davutoglu said the camp, located some 30km northeast of Mosul, was set up almost a year ago at the Mosul governor's request and in coordination with the Iraqi defence ministry.

“This camp was established as a training camp for a force of local volunteers fighting terrorism,” he said in a speech to a labour union that was broadcast live by NTV news channel.

“It has trained more than 2,000 of our Mosul brothers, contributing to the freeing of Mosul from the Islamic State [Daesh] terrorist organisation,” he said.

A senior Kurdish military officer based north of Mosul told Reuters that additional Turkish trainers had arrived at a camp in the area overnight on Thursday escorted by a Turkish protection force.

A small number of Turkish trainers was already at the camp to train a force called Hashid Watani [national mobilisation], which is made up of mainly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul.

The United States was aware of Turkey’s deployment of hundreds of Turkish soldiers to northern Iraq, but the move is not part of the US-led coalition’s activities, according to defence officials in Washington.

 

Powerful Iraqi Shiite Muslim armed groups have pledged to fight a planned deployment of US forces to the country. Turkey has in recent months been bombing Kurdish militant positions in northern Iraq. 

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