MESOP DECISION : Turkey’s Erdogan warns of Iraqi Shiite militia entering Tel Afar
aa.com.tr / MESOP 30 Oct 2016 – Turkey aims to reinforce troops on Iraqi border, Erdogan says – ANKARA,— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday raised concerns about the advance of Iraqi Shiite militia towards the Tel Afar district of Iraq’s Mosul province.
During a Turkish Republic Day reception, Erdogan warned all parties involved of the Hashd al-Shaabi militia entering Tel Afar, saying, “Tel Afar is a very sensitive issue for us. We definitely do not regard it [the militia’s involvement] positively in Tel Afar and Sinjar. I already told this to officials clearly.”
Erdogan said Turkey intends to reinforce its troops deployments on its Iraqi border town of Silopi and that it would have a “different response” for the Shi’ite militia groups if they harm the residents of the Iraqi city of Tel Afar.He added, “Tel Afar is a totally Turkmen city, with half Shia and half Sunni Muslims. We do not judge people by their religious affiliation, we regard them all as Muslims.”
“But if Hashd al-Shaabi terrorizes the region, our response would be different.”
Ankara has repeatedly warned about the risk of sectarian conflict if Shia militias are allowed to enter Sunni-majority Mosul. In other parts of Iraq liberated from Islamic State, such as Fallujah and Ramadi, there have been allegations of Shia fighters mistreating Sunni civilians.The Turkish troop presence in Iraq’s Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul has stirred tension with Baghdad. Iraq says they are in “blatant violation” of Iraqi sovereignty and had demanded their withdrawal.
Turkey says the troops were invited by Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and has ignored the calls.There are 800 Turkish troops deployed in the Mosul and Shaqlawa regions, the move that sparked a crisis between Ankara and Baghdad. Turkey sent hundreds of additional forces and 25 tanks in December 2015 to bolster its military presence in the Bashiqa camp without Iraqi knowledge or approval, calling it a violation of its sovereignty.Erdogan said last week Turkey will continue its involvement in Iraq. “We will always be involved in all developments in Syria and Iraq. We are determined to stand by our brothers and sisters, who are fighting against terrorist organizations, through our diplomatic and military might if necessary,” Erdogan said.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu underlined that Turkey will “take all precautionary measures allowed by international law” if Hashd al-Shaabi threatens Turkey’s security in Tel Afar. Iraqi prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declined on Oct. 22 an offer from Turkey to take part in the battle to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul.