Turkey is not taking part in ground operation for the liberation of Mosul in Iraq, although Ankara has been in talks with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to declare a safe haven in the north of the country, Turkey’s prime minister said.No Turkish troops involved in the retake of Mosul- KRG fighters, Turkmen and Nineveh forces are being employed for Mosul. In a race for control of Mosul.. Or at least a piece of the pie.
“There are air and ground units in the coalition forces. Turkey will take part in the air units,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu also ruled out the participation of Turkish troops in the operation to retake Iraq’s second city
Speaking to journalists at a Justice and Development Party (AKP) members’ meeting in Afyonkarahisar on Oct. 22, he said special forces could be used to support local fighters in the Mosul offensive.
“The land operation must be conducted by the [Iraqi] army instead of different groups. It is out of the question for Turkey or other countries to join in the land operation,” he said. “There are Peshmerga fighters that Turkey has trained and there are Nineveh forces among them. If needed, our special forces can of course join to support the local fighters.”
Iraqi federal court issued an arrest warrant against former Nineveh governor Atheel al-Nujaifi for allegedly allowing Turkish troops into Iraq last year, a controversy that has resurfaced as Iraqi and Kurdish forces are locked in an offensive to evict IS from its stronghold of Mosul.
According to Turkish authorities, it was Nujaifi who gave the green light for troops to set up base in Iraq. Turkey says its role at the Bashiqa camp had been to train the Sunni Nineveh Guard militia, formerly known as the Hashd al-Watani. Nujaifi is in command of the militia, which enjoys good relations with Turkey.
Nujaifi, who is based in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, said in a Facebook posting after news of the warrant that the Mosul offensive was the priority at this time, and that his Turkish-trained forces would be fighting alongside the Iraqi army for Mosul.Containing the Flood of Refugees
The Iraq Kurdish region is already overfilled with refugees- many of them Syrian Kurds- who fled the PKK/YPG. This has been covered here previously. Most recently here
Putting pressure on the Barzani government:
“If fighting starts in Mosul, hundreds of thousands could flee the city as they did in 2014. Refugee agencies estimate 700,000 could be heading towards neighboring Erbil and Duhok in the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) is working with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to prepare, but they have raised less than 40% of what is needed to prepare the necessary infrastructure for refugee camps; reportedly, authorities were seeking €253 million. That means there will not be enough tents in place” Given low oil prices, the KRG is stretched financially.Turkey is also full of refugees, many of them Syrian Kurds, many are Syrian Arabs, who also fled the PKK/YPG. Turkey and the Kurdish autonomous zone governed by Barzani have a shared interest in keeping a flood of refugees out of their respective areas. So them cooperating on this aspect makes complete sense. Turkey and the KRG government have a common enemy in the PKK/YPG
Çavusoglu said Turkey was “currently backing the operation with air support,” but did not elaborate on the role of its power over the operation. Yildirim also added that they planned to contain the possible refugee influx within the borders of Iraq by forming a safe haven in northern Iraq.Trend
“The Iraqi Kurdish administration is aware of the importance for cooperation on this matter and they are ready to work with Ankara,” Yildirim said. “We have troops both near Arbil and on the Iraqi side of the Hakkari-Sirnak border region. There are special units deployed there.”Turkey and the KRG will establish a safe have in northern Iraq to secure the region against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and contain a possible refugee influx, Yildirim said in a television interview on late Oct. 22. “What we have done in Syria, will be done in Iraq,” he said.
“Declaring a safe haven in the region is required and desired by Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) because, there is a common threat, the PKK, which is a threat to both Turkey and northern Iraq,” he said.
An attack by Peshmerga fighters on the Daesh-held town of Bashiqa was backed by Turkish artillery and tank fire, Yildirim said after a meeting of Justice and Development (AK) Party members in Afyonkarahisar, western Turkey.
“Peshmerga forces took action to clear the town of Bashiqa from Daesh,” he said. “They asked for help from our troops at the Bashiqa camp and we are supporting them with artillery, tanks and Firtina howitzers.”
Turkey has maintained a long-standing training base near Bashiqa, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Mosul. Their presence has created tension between Ankara and Baghdad, with Iraqi lawmakers calling for their removal.
Peshmerga troops said they had taken the town on Sunday as part of the operation to free Mosul, Iraq’s second city, from Daesh.
Referring to Turkey’s involvement in Iraq and Syria, where it launched an operation in August to clear the border region of terrorists, Yildirim said Turkey would not seek permission to fight terrorism “both inside and outside the country”.
“We will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to protect our country’s territorial integrity and the nation’s unity and solidarity,” he said.