Turkey says no retreat for troops in Iraq

2015-12-08 16:03
Turkish flags fly in the wind in Istanbul.  (Gero Breloer, AP)

Turkish flags fly in the wind in Istanbul. (Gero Breloer, AP)

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Istanbul - Turkey will halt further deployments in Iraq, but is not withdrawing its troops from the neighbouring country, a Turkish government spokesperson said ahead of a Baghdad-imposed deadline set to expire on Tuesday.

"There is currently no withdrawal, but transfers have been stopped," Tanju Bilgic, a spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying by broadcaster CNN Turk.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he would plan a visit to Baghdad "as soon as possible", in what appeared to be a bid to calm tensions.

The Iraqi government issued an order for Turkey to withdraw its troops by Tuesday evening local time or it would turn to the United Nations Security Council. The government renewed its call just hours before the deadline expired.

Turkish officials say the country has fewer than 1 000 troops in northern Iraq for the purpose of training fighters to take on the Islamic State extremist group or to protect those undertaking the effort.

Turkey sent forces to the Bashiqa region of northern Iraq last week, saying this was a routine rotation of its trainers. However, the government in Baghdad insists this was done without its permission.

The United States and Germany have been urging for de-escalation, with a US official insisting the sides focus on fighting Islamic State.

The Iraqi premier is facing pressure from Shi'ite militias angry over foreign troop deployments in the country.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq  |  turkey

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