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Ankara-Baghdad war of words worsens over Turkish troop deployment

Iran Press TV

Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:34PM

Diplomatic tensions have escalated between Baghdad and Ankara amid the latest verbal salvo coming from Iraqi authorities against the presence of Turkish troops in the north of the conflict-plagued Arab country.

Speaking at a conference of his ruling Justice and Development Party in the western city of Afyonkarahisar on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim accused the Iraqi leadership of "being provocative."

"In recent days, there have been warnings from Iraq. We will not listen to this, nobody can tell us to not be concerned about the region," Yildirim said.

"The Iraqi leadership is being provocative. Turkey does not bow to anyone's threats. Turkey will continue to be present there," he added.

The Turkish prime minister further noted that his country's military forces will keep their presence in Bashiqa military camp, located roughly 12 kilometers northeast of Mosul, regardless of Baghdad's frequent protests.

Earlier on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Turkey had deployed its troops to Iraq not at the request of the Baghdad government, adding that Ankara was not battling the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group but rather trying to build up its outreach.

Ankara did not help Baghdad when it was asked to do so, Abadi added.

The Iraqi premier also reiterated his rejection of Turkish participation in the ongoing offensive to retake Mosul.

Turkey has been defiantly rejecting Iraq's opposition to the presence of its forces in the Arab country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, adamantly seeking a role in the recapture of Mosul from Daesh terrorists.

On October 13, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad, Faruk Kaymakci, and gave him "a strongly worded formal note of protest" on "the continued presence of Turkish forces near Bashiqa and recent abusive statements from their leadership."

The move came two days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan snubbed Abadi's criticism of the presence of Turkish soldiers on Iraqi soil, saying, "You are not at my level. It's not important at all how you shout from Iraq. You should know that we will do what we want to do. Know your place first!"

The Baghdad government criticized Erdogan's "irresponsible" remarks at the time. Iraqi premier's spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said the Turkish leader is "pouring oil on the fire" with his comments and showed Ankara is not serious about resolving the dispute.

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