Ninveh (IraqiNews.com) A senior leader of the Shia militias fighting Islamic State with the Iraqi government has threatened to use force against Turkish troops in Nineveh if Ankara refuses to withdraw them.
Jawad al-Tleibawi, a senior leader of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said in press statements on Wednesday that the PMU are “capable of forcing out the Turkish occupiers if diplomacy and political negotiations fail to”. He labelled statements by Ankara officials which partially conditioned the withdrawal upon pulling out al-Hashd from Nineveh as “a flagrant intervention in Iraq’s domestic affairs”.
Tleibawi said al-Hashd’s participation had taken part in Mosul battles as per official commands by the supreme commander of the armed forces, a reference to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Ankara and Baghdad have recently showed willingness to relieve tensions in bilateral relations that reached their peak in November as Baghdad pressed Ankara to withdraw troops from a military base in Bashiqa, Nineveh.
While Baghdad labelled Turkish military presence as a violation of its sovereignty, Ankara maintained the importance of the deployment, arguing it trained local militias to combat Islamic State militants and to curb the influence of Kurdish PKK militia, an organization with a long history of conflict with Ankara which the latter lists as a terrorist organization.
Iraqi and Turkish head of governments said after a meeting in Baghdad on Saturday they had reached an understanding concerning the controversial Turkish deployment that will see an eventual pullout after the defeat of Islamic State in Ninveh.
Ankara has also been a vocal critic of al-Hashd al-Shaabi’s involvement in Mosul battles, voicing fears that the predominantly-Shia forces could commit human rights violations against Sunni residents of the city.
Al-Hashd had won parliament recognition as a national legitimate force in November.