Iraqi chief of staff invited to Ankara for talks on Bashiqa camp

Iraqi chief of staff invited to Ankara for talks on Bashiqa camp

Turkey has invited the Iraqi chief of staff to Ankara to discuss the current row between the two countries over the Bashiqa camp near Mosul.

Turkey's Defense Minister Fikri Işık said Monday that a letter was sent to the Iraqi Chief of Staff Othman al-Ghanimi, inviting him to the Turkish capital to have talks about the issue of Turkish troops' presence at the Bashiqa camp.

In a joint press conference with al-Abadi after their meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the issue of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul will be solved with Iraq in a friendly way and in line with clearing Daesh terrorists from the region.

Explaining that the troops were stationed in Bashiqa out of a necessity, Yıldırım said great efforts have been taken to clear Daesh from the region.

Earlier this year, Iraqi-Turkish relations had turned sour over who should take part in the planned Mosul assault against Daesh.

Iraq had said they perceived the Turkish military forces presence in the country as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and had called upon the Turkish authorities to withdraw those forces as soon as possible.

However, Turkey had stated that Turkish forces had initially been stationed at the Bashiqa camp to train the local forces in their fight against Daesh at the request of Abadi himself.

About 150 soldiers and up to 25 tanks were stationed in Bashiqa to protect Turkish servicemen training Iraqi volunteers to fight Daesh since March 2015. Turkey had pointed out that the soldiers were not assigned to combat duties, and would do all it could to prevent the operation from deepening sectarian conflict on its borders.

Mosul, the largest city seized by Daesh anywhere across the once vast territory it controlled in Iraq and neighboring Syria, has been held by the group since its fighters drove the U.S.-trained army out in June 2014.

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