Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Photo: AFP
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Turkey has pledged to withdraw its forces from the Bashiqa military camp in Iraq as soon as Mosul has been liberated from ISIS, the office of Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday.
A statement by Abadi’s office said the promise was made in a phone call by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday.
The statement quoted Yildirim as saying: ”Regarding the Bashiqa camp, we will withdraw from there and the mission of our forces will end with the liberation of Mosul.
There was no confirmation of that pledge in the Turkish media.
The Iraqi Prime Minister's statement said that Yilirim expressed his country’s interest in continuing trade and economic relations with Iraq.
“His excellency (Abadi) stressed that all states have to respect Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the statement read. Abadi told Yildirim that, “The withdrawal of Turkish troops from the Bashiqa camp is necessary,” and called on him to “declare” that Turkey is pledging to pull out the forces after the Mosul operation is over.
Iraq launched the Mosul offensive in mid-October, with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Kurdish Peshmerga and Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries taking part, supported by the US-led coalition.
Turkey has expressed concern over the Shiite paramilitary involvement, especially in the largely Turkmen city of Tal Afar in western Mosul, which is still under the control of ISIS militants.
The deployment of Turkish troops and heavy weapons to Bashiqa last December sparked a diplomatic crisis between Baghdad and Ankara that was reignited last October after Iraqi parliamentarians urged the Iraqi government to brand the Turkish presence as an occupation.
Turkey has maintained that its presence in northern Iraq is necessary to combat the threat posed by ISIS.