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Iraq warns Turkey of “war” over troop deployment

Oct 05, 2016, 7:06 AM EDT
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
(Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/flickr)

Following Turkish parliament’s vote to extend its military operation in Iraq last week, Baghdad has warned Ankara that its military presence on Iraqi soil may trigger a “regional war.” On Tuesday night, Iraqi parliament condemned the Turkish vote and called on Ankara to withdraw its troops from Iraq’s territory. Amid rising tensions, the two global powers summoned each other’s ambassadors on Wednesday to find a diplomatic solution to the face-off.

Addressing the nation in a televised speech, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Turkish leaders’ behavior was “unacceptable,” reports Middle East Eye. Turkey claims that it has defended Iraq's territorial integrity, sovereignty, stability and security by carrying out counter-terrorism operations along the border and criticizes Baghdad’s “sectarian” approach in the fight against Islamic State.

The Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State are two key factors fueling the confrontations between Iraq and Turkey, writes Reuters. Turkey is concerned that the long-awaited operation in IS-held Mosul will result in a huge influx of refugees in its territory.

In addition, Turkish leadership is wary that the largely Sunni city along its border will get destabilized after Baghdad's Shi'ite Muslim-led forces launch offensive in Mosul. Besides, Turkey considers Kurdish forces a part of terrorist organizations, while Washington and Baghdad see them as strategic allies in the fight against jihadist militants.