– The Iraqi parliament’s labeling Turkey’s military presence in the country “occupiers” is unacceptable, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Thursday, according to Anadolu Agency.
Speaking to reporters in the Black Sea province of Ordu, Kurtulmus said, “Turkey’s presence in Bashiqa is not for occupying the region. If Iraqi government officials had to react, where were they when Mosul and Raqqa were occupied by Daesh in one day?”
He added, “Turkey’s presence in Bashiqa was on the request of the local authorities to rescue the Mosul province from Daesh occupation. So Turkey isn’t [coming] there like someone from far away coming to occupy. Turkey is there to help the people of Mosul fight Daesh.”
The Turkish troops in Bashiqa have been training local forces on how to fight Daesh.
Kurtulmus went on to say, “Turkey rejects this official statement. Our presence in Bashiqa is specifically to contribute to the normalization process there and support the protection of Mosul and its people.”
On Wednesday Iraq’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry over the “occupiers” characterization, and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry also summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad.
On Tuesday the Foreign Ministry also condemned the “mischaracterization”, saying, “We strongly condemn the Iraqi parliament’s unacceptable decision, including scurrilous accusations against Turkish President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan].”
A 2007 mandate that allows military action against terrorist organizations in neighboring Syria and Iraq was extended by Turkey’s parliament after the emergence of Daesh, according to the ministry. Iraq’s parliament Tuesday rejected the decision to extend the mandate.