Turkey has acknowledged a “miscommunication” with Iraq over its deployment of troops to the Bashiqa military base in northern Iraq, Turkey’s foreign ministry said on on Saturday. The ministry said Turkey would continue to move some of its troops out of Nineveh province, where the camp is based. It did not say how many troops would be moved or where to. Turkey deployed hundreds of troops in the Bashiqa area this month, with the stated aim of protecting its military personnel training Iraqi militia to fight against Daesh. Baghdad has criticised the deployment and demanded Turkey pull them out. Turkey’s statement comes a day after US President Barack Obama urged Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call to “de-escalate tensions” with Iraq by continuing to withdraw Turkish forces. Some troops were withdrawn earlier this week to another base inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should withdraw completely. “Turkey acknowledges the miscommunication with the government of Iraq over the deployments of Turkish protection forces,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in the statement. “Turkey, in recognition of the Iraqi concerns and in accordance with the requirements of the fight against Daesh, is continuing to move military forces from Nineveh province that were the source of miscommunication,” it said.
Ankara has said the deployment of the force protection unit was due to heightened security risks near the camp, which is close to the Daesh-held Iraqi city of Mosul. The base came under fire from Daesh on Wednesday, when militants fired rockets as they launched a wave of attacks against Kurdish forces.
Turkish armed forces said its soldiers returned fire and four had been lightly wounded in the incident.
Iraq has taken its criticism of the deployment to the UN Security Council, which met on the issue on Friday.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari asked the body to adopt a resolution demanding Turkey withdraw its troops immediately. Turkey accused Iraq on Friday of undermining the global fight against Daesh militants by taking its complaint about the deployment of Turkish troops in northern Iraq to the United Nations Security Council.
The 15-member council met on the issue on Friday at the request of Iraq and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari who asked the body to adopt a resolution demanding Turkey withdraw its troops immediately.
Jaafari signaled the request for council action was a last resort. “Iraq has spared no effort to exhaust all diplomatic channels and bilateral negotiations with Turkey, in order to withdraw its forces that are unauthorised in Iraq,” he said.
Turkey deployed around 150 troops in the Bashiqa area earlier this month with the stated aim of training an Iraqi militia to fight Daesh.
Turkey withdrew some troops this week, moving them to another base inside Iraq’s Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should pull out completely.
Turkey’s UN Ambassador Halit Cevik said the deployment had been taken out of context and that additional troops had been sent to the camp to provide force protection due to increasing threats.
He said Ankara believed it had taken sufficient measures to de-escalate the situation, so efforts could be re-focused in combating Daesh militants, who have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. Daesh is also known as Daesh.
“From the outset, we tried to resolve this matter through bilateral channels. Because taking this issue to various international platforms would serve no other purpose than to undermine the solidarity of the international community against Daesh,” Cevik told the Security Council.