Following an appeal from the White House, Turkey agreed on Saturday to pull more of its soldiers out of northern Iraq, where they have been reportedly battling the group calling itself the “Islamic State” (IS).
The foreign ministry said it acknowledged a “miscommunication” with Iraq over the deployment of its forces.
Since past year Turkey has been keeping troops in a military training base near Mosul, which is now held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but chose to reinforce its units with additional troops out of what Ankara says are “security concerns”.
Baghdad condemned it as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and consequently demanded those forces withdraw immediately.
In a statement the ministry said Turkey would continue to move some of its troops out of Iraq’s Nineveh province, where they are now based.
Halit Cevik’s remarks came during a council meeting requested by Iraq on the recent deployment of Turkish troops, which has caused a diplomatic spat between the neighbors.
The dispute flared up earlier this month after Turkey deployed reinforcements to a camp in Iraq’s Bashiqa region where Sunni and Kurdish troops are being trained to fight IS militants.
Jaafari told the Council on Friday that Iraq retains its right of self-defense and is ready to take all necessary measures to end Turkey’s “hostile act” if it is carried out again. “Today, no other country wishes Iraq’s, Syria’s and Libya’s territorial integrity should be upheld as sincerely as Turkey, and no other country is making such efforts on this”, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President.
However, Iraqi authorities regard the move a flagrant breach of the country’s sovereignty and have repeatedly called on Ankara to withdraw its forces.