President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish troops recently deployed to Iraq will not be leaving the Arab country for the time being.
“Withdrawing our soldiers is out of the question for the moment,” Erdogan said at a news conference in the capital, Ankara, on Thursday.
He repeated Ankara’s claim that the troops were deployed upon a request from the Iraqi government, even as Baghdad has repeatedly said it did not make such a request.
Erdogan said the Turkish forces stationed in Iraq were part of a training mission to help train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters combat Daesh.
“The number of our soldiers (in northern Iraq) might increase or decrease depending on the number of Peshmerga being trained,” Erdogan said.
On December 4, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province. Baghdad strongly condemned the deployment, describing the uncoordinated act a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
The Turkish ambassador to Iraq was summoned by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Saturday and was told of the Iraqi demand that Turkey immediately withdraw the troops.