Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has dismissed Baghdad’s warning of military action to defend Iraqi sovereignty if Ankara does not pull its troops out of northern Iraq.
"If Baghdad wants to use force, they should use it against Daesh, get rid of Daesh from Mousul. If they do so… why we would risk our army, we would withdraw to our country,” Davutoglu said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV.
He made the remarks in response to Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who called on Turkey Wednesday to withdraw its troops or risk the use of military action.
Baghdad and Ankara are locked in a war of words over the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq.
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.
Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh.
Baghdad has strongly condemned the presence of the Turkish battalion on the Iraqi territory, branding the uncoordinated act as a violation of Iraq's national sovereignty.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Davutoglu claimed that Turkish troops were in northern Iraq in a bid to prevent terrorist infiltration into Turkey.
“I wish Iraq can control this area (northern parts) so that we don’t need to launch air operations there to prevent the leak of terrorists into Turkey.”
On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi held a phone conversation with Davutoglu, calling on Ankara to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq and withdraw its troops from the Arab country.
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