Turkish military ops in Iraq no longer needed once threat removed – deputy PM

Turkish troops. File photo.

(Reuters/ Turkey reserves the right to take measures inside Iraq to defend itself against terror threats but would no longer need to do so once such threats are removed, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Monday.

Iraq has long demanded that Turkish forces withdraw from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul in the north of the country. The issue was discussed during a meeting of the two countries’ prime ministers in Baghdad on Saturday.

“The Bashiqa camp is there because of terror which originates in Iraq, and it is our right to take measures against this. If the threat is removed, there will be no need to,” Canikli said in an interview with A Haber television.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday agreement had been reached with Turkey over a withdrawal from Bashiqa, but Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stopped short of confirming this. Yildirim noted significant progress in the fight against Islamic State and said the issue of Bashiqa would be solved “somehow in a friendly way”.

Turkey has recurrently maintained that troops deployed in Iraq were meant to train local fighters on combating Islamic State militants. It is also actively fighting the group in Syrian towns near its borders.

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