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Iraq's Abadi says could resort to UN over Turkish deployment

By Reuters - Dec 06,2015 - Last updated at Dec 06,2015

In this Saturday photo, security forces prepare to destroy collected bombs and explosives being planted by Daesh militants outside Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, 115 kilometres west of Baghdad (AP photo)

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said on Sunday his country might turn to the UN security council if Turkish troops sent to northern Iraq were not withdrawn within 48 hours.

He said the deployment of hundreds of Turkish forces near the northern Daesh-controlled city of Mosul on Thursday had happened without the approval or knowledge of the Iraqi government and constituted a violation of national sovereignty.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded to the row on Saturday saying 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.

Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled Al Obeidi said on Sunday he had told his Turkish counterpart that the latest deployment had been sent without informing or coordinating with Baghdad, and should be withdrawn.

He said the Turkish defence minister had explained the deployment as necessary to protect Turkish military advisers training Iraqi forces some 30km northeast of Mosul in preparation for a campaign to retake the city. 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 has the right to use all available options, including resorting to the UN security council if these forces are not withdrawn within 48 hours," Abadi said in a separate statement.

Iraq's leadership have called the Turkish deployment a hostile act and a violation of international law. Baghdad also summoned the Turkish ambassador to issue a formal protest.

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

Iraq has urged the international community to provide more weapons and training in its battle against the militants, but rejects most forms of direct intervention, mistrusting the intentions of foreign powers.

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

A senior Turkish official told Reuters on Sunday that Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities and commitments in the fight against terrorism, and said Ankara's position had been communicated to Iraq's top officials.

"I believe there has been a misunderstanding that is now being resolved," the official said.

The United States was aware of Turkey's deployment 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.

US officials made several statements last week on plans to send more US troops to Iraq, prompting Iraqi politicians and militias to protest against the presence of any foreign troops in Iraq without explicit permission from parliament.

 

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 on bombing operations on Kurdish militant positions in northern Iraq.

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