Protestors outside Turkish embassy in Baghdad demand withdrawal of troops

Published October 18th, 2016 - 03:00 GMT
The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to retake the Islamic State (IS) group's hub of Mosul
The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to retake the Islamic State (IS) group's hub of Mosul

Thousands of Iraqis gathered outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday to protest that country's continued military presence north of Mosul, despite demands by the government for Ankara's soldiers to leave.

Protesters carried Iraqi flags and demanded that the Turks withdraw from Bashiqa base, in line with repeated requests by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

"Out out, you occupier," was one of the slogans being chanted, according to witnesses.

Muqtada al-Sadr, a hardline Shiite cleric, is one of those calling for the demonstrations against the troops' presence.

The Turkish military base inside Iraq has caused tensions between Baghdad and Ankara, just as Iraq has started a campaign to retake Mosul, the country's second city, from Daesh forces. The countries have summoned each other's ambassadors, without result.

On Monday, a Turkish diplomatic delegation visited Baghdad, but an Iraqi Foreign Ministry source said that the meeting saw no new ideas presented that met their demands.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has since said an Iraqi delegation will go to Turkey this week for further discussions, insisting that both sides want to resolve the matter though dialogue, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Mosul has been under the control of the extremist group since 2014. Now, a coalition of Iraqi forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga troops, are moving swiftly to capture the city, backed by a US-led coalition and airstrikes.

Turkey is not part of the operation, despite repeated demands by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to participate.

Erdogan says the troops - their numbers including about 150 soldiers deployed last year for training Sunni forces - will remain, insisting they are part of his country's self-defence strategy.


© 2021 dpa GmbH

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