By Diyar Guldogan
Turkey will continue its presence in Iraq's Bashiqa as long as needed, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Wednesday.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ Desk in Ankara, Kurtulmus said: "Turkey's presence in Bashiqa is legitimate. We will continue our presence there as long as Turkey is needed there."
He said Turkey’s presence in the Iraqi region was for the purpose of supporting the people of Mosul.
Within the scope of the train-and-equip program, Turkey – like any other country in the international coalition – trained people who will save Mosul, he said.
He said Turkey had trained Turkmen, Arabs and Peshmerga in Bashiqa, adding that over 4,000 people from Mosul were also given training.
Turkish Special Forces have been training Kurdish Peshmerga forces at the Bashiqa Camp, located roughly 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) northeast of the Daesh-held city of Mosul, since last year at the request of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government.
A day after the Turkish parliament voted on Oct. 3 to extend its army’s mandate at Bashiqa Camp, Iraqi lawmakers rejected the extension and demanded a review of the country’s ties with Turkey.
On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi himself had asked for the formation of a military base in Bashiqa. Erdogan told Abadi to "know his limits," reminding him the Turkish military presence in Iraq was due to a demand made by Baghdad itself.
About Abadi, Kurtulmus said: "Probably, he is under different influences, under influence of others."
He warned the Iraqi government and other regional countries against a sectarian war, which would not benefit Sunnis and Shias if it erupts.
Turkey's 'red line'
Kurtulmus said Turkey will take part in a possible operation to sweep out Daesh from Mosul. "First of all, we have to give air support to sweep out Daesh," he said.
However, he warned against involving the PYD and YPG groups in the Mosul operation. He said the problems of Daesh-held Mosul city would not resolve if terrorist groups like the PYD and the YGP get involved.
He said Turkey's "red line" was clear to all. Turkey will not take part in the operation if the PYD or YPG participates, he added.
"Turkey will take part in this operation only if local people are involved in it and foreign elements like the PYD and the YPG are not inserted," Kurtulmus said.
He said those who currently back the PYD and PKK did not know what they would confront in the future from such terrorist organizations.
He also clarified that Turkey was not eyeing the territories of Iraq or Syria for itself.
FETO, Daesh 'copy each other'
Kurtulmus said there was no difference between Daesh and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which the government accuses of being behind the July 15 defeated coup.
He said both groups "copy each other."
Kurtulmus said FETO and Daesh both did not accept others who were not from them as Muslims and its followers were forbidden to ask questions to their leaders.
"You can neither question the head of Daesh nor [that of] FETO," he said.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.