Ankara-Three days after the Turkish PM’s visit to Baghdad and the conclusion of a deal on Iraq’s request for the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Bashiqa camp, tension between the two sides flared on Tuesday .
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said relations with northern neighbor Turkey could “not move forward one step” without the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the camp that lies in northern Iraq, state television reported.
Turkish forces have been stationed at Bashiqa camp near Mosul since before the start of an offensive against ISIS.
However a Turkish official told the Hurriyet Daily News that “Turkey will not withdraw its troops from the Bashiqa military camp until the end of the Mosul offensive against ISIS,” elaborating on talks held during Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s recent trip to Iraq.
He noted that there was a verbal deal stating that Turkish forces will stay for several more months.
Meanwhile, Turkey has invited Iraq’s Chief of General Staff Osman al-Ghanimi to Ankara for talks on both the anti-terror fight and the status of the Bashiqa camp after Yildirim’s key visit to Baghdad over the weekend.
Delegations from Turkey and Iraq will meet in a couple of months to discuss the modalities of a future withdrawal, said the official, who is familiar with Yildirim’s discussions with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi.
Although Turkey is not planning an immediate pullout of its troops from the camp, the prime ministers of the two countries stressed in their joint statement Iraqi sensitivities, in order to ease Baghdad’s stance regarding the soldiers.
The issue had raised tension between the two countries last year.
Ankara and Baghdad had negotiated on a memorandum of understanding since September, but they could not sign it due to differences regarding the status of the Bashiqa military camp.