Iraq's referral of its complaint about the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq to the UN Security Council weakens the international efforts to counter Daesh, Turkey's UN ambassador said Friday.
Halit Çevik's remarks came during a council meeting requested by Iraq on the recent deployment of Turkish troops, which has caused a diplomatic spat between the neighbours.
Prior to Çevik's speech, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari asked the council to condemn Turkey for the presence of its troops in northern Iraq. Ankara has argued that the troops have been been training Iraqi volunteers in their fight against Daesh.
Jaafari called the presence of Turkish elements a violation of the UN Charter as well as Iraq's sovereignty, and urged the council to demand Ankara to withdraw its military personnel immediately.
Turkey has said it has been running a training program in a camp established in Bashiqa, near Mosul, to provide training to Iraqi volunteers as part of the fight against Daesh terrorist group. The Turkish troops in the camp are not assigned to combat duties.
On Dec. 4, Turkey reinforced the force protection component of its units in the camp due to increasing threats to their security.
Following a series of bilateral talks to alleviate Iraq's concerns, Turkey rearranged the number of troops in Bashiqa and the additional security elements left the camp on Dec. 14.
In response to Jaafari's comments, Çevik said Iraq's referral of its complaint about the troops to the Security Council "would serve no other purpose than to undermine the solidarity of the international community against Daesh".
"We said it before, we will say it again, and we will keep repeating until we put an end to all the baseless allegations: Turkey has never had and will never have any interest in violating Iraq's sovereignty," Çevik said. "Nor unlike others, do we have any plans or ambitions over Iraqi territory."
He said Turkey had been under attack, not only by Daesh, but also by the PKK terrorist organization, of which the headquarters is based in the Qandil region of Iraq.
"We have been calling on the Iraqi government to stop the activities of the PKK. Each time, the response we received has been that the Iraqi government had no control over that part of the country," Çevik said.
"If the Iraqi government claims that it has full sovereignty over all its territory, then it is our right to expect that it prevents the use of Iraqi soil for terrorist attacks against our own territory. However, both Daesh and the PKK continue to pose significant risks to Turkey's safety and security from areas beyond the Iraqi government's reach and it is our right to exercise self-defense," he added.
The remarks by Jaafari and Çevik were followed by closed consultations among the council members. No statement was issued after the session.
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