TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the country’s military troops will continue their presence in Iraq as long as needed.
"Turkey does not move on orders from others … Turkey’s presence in the Bashiqa camp will remain until Mosul is rid of Daesh," Kurtulmus told the state-run Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
“…we will continue our presence there as long as it is needed…Turkey’s force in the region cannot be questioned,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan said, "We will use all our resources to prevent our brothers in Syria and Iraq from being crushed under the wheels of global power games, and to keep us from suffering a similar fate.”
Ankara, he claimed, seeks to prevent the Mosul battle from turning into a “sectarian one” and causing “blood and fire” in the Middle East.
But their presence has sparked a row with the government in Baghdad, which is keen that its forces be at the forefront of the offensive.
The comments came only hours after Iraqi Prime minister Haider al-Abadi took to his Twitter account to brush aside Erdogan’s earlier remarks that Turkish forces must play a role in the Mosul operation.
Secretary General of Iraq’s Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri censured Erdogan’s comments, saying pro-government Popular Mobilization Units will not allow any violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
His strong-worded remarks came after Erdogan snubbed Abadi’s criticism of Turkish troops on the Iraqi soil.
“You are not at my level. It’s not important at all how you shout from Iraq. You should know that we will do what we want to do. Know your place first,” the Turkish president said in remarks addressed to Abadi.
The Iraqi government criticized Erdogan’s “irresponsible” remarks, with the Iraqi premier’s spokesman Saad al-Hadithi saying that the Turkish leader was “pouring oil on the fire.”
Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city and the main stronghold of Daesh terrorists, fell in 2014. The Iraqi army and pro-government forces have been preparing for months for the final assault to recapture the city.