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Iraq's PM Urges Turkey to Remove Troops from Mosul

  • VOA News

FILE - Protesters shout slogans and brandish weapons during a demonstration calling for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq, in Basra, Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appealed to Turkey Friday to pull its troops out of Iraq that it has stationed near the embattled Islamic State stronghold of Mosul.

"We have to have an answer," the Iraqi leader said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he outlined his views on stabilizing the volatile Middle East.

Abadi said Baghdad wants "very good neighborly relations" with Ankara and wants it to join efforts to fight Islamic State militants, but also wants Turkey's troops out of Iraq.

Using another name for Islamic State fighters, Abadi said, "Daesh is killing our own citizens, occupying our own cities. We have 4 million internal refugees because of that, and Turkey should help us with that. And I appeal to the Turkish government to help us, and withdraw their forces."

Turkey has stationed troops inside Iraq since 2014, but in early December deployed another 100 or more equipped with tanks and artillery for what it said were training exercises.

Baghdad protested Turkey's troop movement, calling it a breach of its sovereignty. Abadi said Turkey has yet to explain why it has additional troops inside Iraq. After the Iraqi protest, Turkey ended more deployments.

International mission

At the time of the Turkish troop movement, Ankara said its fighters were in Iraq as part of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State insurgents. But Baghdad said there was no invitation for the Turkish troops.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met Thursday with Abadi in Davos. The White House said Biden "encouraged continued dialog between Iraq and Turkey to resolve concerns about Turkish troop deployments in northern Iraq and reiterated U.S. respect for Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Biden is expected to discuss the issue further in Istanbul on Saturday when he meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

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