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Erdogan: Turkish army has been in Mosul for 18 months

Turkish leader says soldiers are training local forces at request of Iraqi PM

Erdogan: Turkish army has been in Mosul for 18 months



President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkish troops have been in Mosul for 18 months at the request of the Iraqi prime minister.

Erdogan’s remarks came during a press conference at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul before an official visit to Turkmenistan.

Speaking to reporters, Erdogan said: “As you know, there are many steps taken by many countries on Iraq; there are operations carried out. And we do not resemble any of those countries. We are a very different country."

“Because Iraq is a place where terrorist organizations are running wild, especially Daesh …. these terrorist organizations are a threat element for Turkey.”

Erdogan added: “If the Iraqi central government does not take the necessary measures against possible threats to Turkey, we have to do it ourselves.”

The Turkish leader also said Ankara had deployed training soldiers to northern Iraq at the end of 2014 at the request of the Iraqi prime minister.

“Now it has been approximately a year-and-a half since the establıshment of the Bashiqa camp. One would ask: where were you a year-and-a-half ago?” he said.

On Thursday, a Turkish delegation headed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and the head of the National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan, visited Baghdad.

Stating that he and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a meeting with both following their visit, Erdogan said:  “At the moment retreating our troops is out of question. [...] [It] is not about keeping combat troops but a backup to protect our officers providing training there. All the numbers that have been released [regarding Turkish troops] are extreme. These numbers do not have any relation, close or far, with the number of soldiers we deployed.”

Approximately 150 Turkish soldiers were deployed near Mosul on Dec. 4 to reportedly replace training forces already in the area. In addition, 20-25 tanks were also sent to the region.

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