US defense chief to discuss Baghdad-Ankara crisis on Iraq trip

December 17, 2015 7:09 am 

MOSCOW, Dec. 16 — US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will discuss the issue of Turkish forces entering Iraq as well as the US-led anti-terror coalition's support for Baghdad during his visit to the country, a spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry told Sputnik on Wednesday.

On Monday, US President Barack Obama asked Carter to travel to the Middle East to negotiate additional US contributions into the fight against extremists.

"The Iraqi Defense Minister has not yet met with his US colleague, this is a routine visit which the US defense minister and US military leaders are making to discuss two main issues," Naseer Nouri Mohammed said.

"The first is arming and equipping the Iraqi army and support of Iraq by the international coalition, and the second is the Iraqi-Turkish crisis which took place due to the invasion of the Turkish forces in northern Iraq without the knowledge of the central authorities, as well as the US efforts to resolve it," the official explained.

The US-led international coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Iraq against the Daesh (also known as the Islamic State militant group) which is outlawed in many countries including Russia. Turkey is a member of the coalition, but has not carried out aerial attacks in Iraq.

On Dec. 4, Turkey deployed about 150 troops and 25 tanks to a base in Iraq's Nineveh province, without Baghdad’s approval. Baghdad regards the deployment as illegal.

On Saturday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said it had officially filed a complaint with the UN Security Council, calling on the United Nations to ensure an immediate withdrawal of the Turkish forces from its country's territory.

The Turkish authorities reported that their troops had entered Iraq to ensure the security of the Turkish soldiers deployed earlier at the base to train local militias fighting against terrorist groups. (PNA/Sputnik)

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