TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A spokesperson for Iraqi popular forces condemned the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq, stressing that Ankara’s military incursions into the Arab country contravene all universally accepted international norms and laws.
“Turkey’s (military) intervention in Iraq is a violation of international law,” Spokesman for Iraq's Badr Organization Karim al-Nouri said in an interview with Lebanese channel al-Mayadeen on Sunday.
The remarks came after Turkish lawmakers almost overwhelmingly approved earlier extension by another year of Ankara’s cross-border military incursions into Syria and Iraq.
Ankara claims that these operations are aimed at curbing the Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) Takfiri terrorist group and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, and to further strengthen pro-Turkey militants fighting against these two groups in Iraq and Syria.
Al-Nouri described Turkish military troops in Iraq as “occupation” forces, saying that the incursions are the same as Daesh incursions in the Arab country.
The spokesman further said that Baghdad welcomes all international efforts to help Iraq in the face of Daesh, noting, however, that it is Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, not Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan, who will set a zero hour for liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
He also stressed that only Iraqi troops will participate in an anticipated offensive to retake the northern city from the Daesh terrorist group.
On September 23, Abadi renewed a call for Turkish troops deployed in the country since last year to withdraw as they complicate the battle to retake the Daesh stronghold of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh province.
“I call on the international community to support and respect the sovereignty of Iraq and to call on Turkey to withdraw its forces in Iraq, whose presence, despite the rejections from the Iraqi people, hinders our efforts to liberate Nineveh province (Mosul),” he said.
Tensions have been running high between Baghdad and Ankara since December 4, when Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul.
Iraq has suffered a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when Daesh captured Mosul and overran large swathes of territory in the northern and western parts of the country.
In recent months, the Iraqi army has managed to retake much territory from Daesh.
Iraqi forces have recently captured the Shirqat district in northern Iraq from Daesh militants ahead of the planned operation to retake Mosul, which Iraqi officials have vowed to recapture by year’s end.