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Turkish-Trained Forces to Join Iraqi Mosul Operation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Members of Iraqi security forces gesture as a convoy advances on the outskirts of Mosul, to fight against Islamic State militants, in Kirkuk, Iraq, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

Forces trained by the Turkish military at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq will take part in the planned operation to drive ISIS out of the city of Mosul, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.

It cited officials who took part in talks between Turkey and the United States, as well as Iraqi sources, as saying the operation would begin within a few days, “if there is no extraordinary development”.

Turkey has been locked in a fierce row with Iraq over who should take part in the Mosul assault. On Thursday, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman warned any mistake in the operation could result in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Mosul, home to up to 1.5 million people, has been at the heart of ISIS’ self-declared caliphate in Iraq since 2014. The U.S.-backed assault on the city has been expected to begin this month.

Anadolu said the Turkish-trained forces would participate in the operation together with the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, with the latter launching the operation.

Despite objections from Baghdad’s government to the Turkish military presence, Ankara wants to keep the troops it has stationed at the Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq until ISIS militants have been driven from Mosul.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed on Wednesday Turkey’s determination to prevent the Mosul operation from causing “blood and fire” in the region due to sectarian conflict.

Turkey fears the use of Shi’ite militias, which Iraqi army units have relied on in the past, will stoke sectarian unrest.

Turkish soldiers have been training Sunni Muslim and allied Peshmerga units at Bashiqa.

The operation could cause mass displacement of Mosul residents. It is expected that up to one million people might leave Mosul.

Kurdish, Iraqi, and United Nations representatives established a joint committee on Thursday to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people during the Mosul operation.

In a press conference, the Interior Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Karim Sinjari, Iraqi Minister of Migration and Displacement Darbaz Mohammed, and the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande announced the creation of the joint committee in Erbil.

“According to the agreement, the provinces of the Kurdistan Region will supervise the aid to the displaced people wherever it is needed in coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement, and the U.N.,” Sinjari said.