PM: Turkey could reassess troop deployment in N. Iraq

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Davutoglu accuses third parties of turning Turkey’s troop deployment in northern Iraq into crisis between Ankara and Baghdad

ANKARA – Turkey’s military presence in northern Iraq could be re-evaluated depending on conditions in the field, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday.

Speaking to press members in the capital Ankara, Davutoglu said: “When it is found necessary, the nature and bulk of the measure [Turkey’s troops deployment] will be re-evaluated, depending on conditions in the field.”

His remarks came as tensions between Ankara and Baghdad have arisen over the recent deployment of Turkish military troops to Bashiqa, near the northern Iraqi city Mosul.

Approximately 150 Turkish soldiers were deployed near Mosul on Dec. 4 to reportedly replace training forces already in the area. In addition, 20 to 25 tanks were also sent to the region.

Referring to certain media reports which he accuses of using this recent deployment of troops to start a crisis between Turkey and Iraq, Davutoglu noted: “Showing Turkey as if it is running a secret activity [in Bashiqa] is totally untrue.”

“The parties that mainly provoke this incident are not the Republic of Turkey and Iraq. Some parties would like to make Turkey’s military presence a matter of debate, by making [all] forget their own military presence,” he added, referring to Russia, which has conducted air raids in Syria since late September. 

Relations between Moscow and Ankara have soured since Turkey downed a Russian jet on Nov. 24. 

Highlighting the importance of Iraq’s territorial integrity, Davutoglu said: “I hope relations of friendship between Turkey and Iraq will continue strongly from now on.”

He also said that he would like to visit to Baghdad as soon as possible.

“It is important that third parties’ efforts do not affect our bilateral friendship,” he added.

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