Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has defended the deployment of Turkish forces to northern Iraq, claiming that it was a “measure” to fight against Takfiri Daesh militants.
Davutoglu made the remarks after meeting with Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Barzani arrived in Turkey on Wednesday for a two-day visit, and according to local media, received a warm welcome there.
His visit came amid tensions between Turkey and Iraq after Ankara sent some 150 heavily-armed soldiers to Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh without Baghdad’s approval.
Barzani also met with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization’s undersecretary Hakan Fidan.
Davutoglu said the Turkish troops were deployed to Iraq following an increased threat from Daesh militants to Turkish military trainers in the region.
“These trainers in Bashiqa camp were threatened by Daesh because it is 15-20 km from Mosul and they have only light arms,” he added.
Barzani also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoghan who said the deployment came at the request of Iraq’s central government, but Baghdad has denied the allegation.
Baghdad has strongly condemned the deployment of the Turkish battalion to the Iraqi territory, branding the uncoordinated act as a violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty.
On December 6, Iraq gave Turkey 48 hours to pull out its forces or face all available options, including recourse to the United Nations Security Council.
The Iraqi government has called on the international community to provide it with more arms and training to fight Daesh, but rejected direct intervention by other countries.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it considered Ankara’s move to deploy troops to northern Iraq “illegal” and “a very serious factor of tensions,” emphasizing that “the forces arrived there without the approval of the Iraqi government.”