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Prime minister’s office says the deployment of an armoured regiment ‘is considered a serious violation of Iraqi sovereignty’

Iraq has told Turkey to “immediately” withdraw forces, including tanks and artillery, it has deployed in the country’s north without Baghdad’s consent, the office of the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said on Saturday.

“The Iraqi authorities call on Turkey to ... immediately withdraw from Iraqi territory,” the statement said.

“We have confirmation that Turkish forces, numbering about one armoured regiment with a number of tanks and artillery, entered Iraqi territory ... allegedly to train Iraqi groups, without a request or authorisation from Iraqi federal authorities,” it said.

The deployment “is considered a serious violation of Iraqi sovereignty”, it added.

Turkish media reported that about 150 Turkish soldiers backed by 20 to 25 tanks had been sent by road to the Bashiqa area north-east of Mosul, the city that is Islamic State’s main hub in Iraq.

Peshmerga forces from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region are deployed in the area, and Turkey’s Anatolia news agency said the troops were there to train them.

Isis overran swaths of territory north and west of Baghdad in 2014, and Iraqi forces backed by US-led airstrikes are battling to push back the jihadis.

The peshmerga are one of the most effective Iraqi forces in the fight against Isis, but coordination between them and the federal government in Baghdad has generally been poor.

Tag(s) : #Middle East

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