ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s Foreign Minister on Saturday claimed his country’s army at a base in Iraq had killed over 700 Islamic State (IS) militants near the town of Bashiqa.
Bashiqa was liberated a fortnight ago by the Kurdistan Region’s US-backed Peshmerga Forces.
The Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu made the claim during an argument he had with the Armenian lawmaker Koryun Nahapetyan at the 62nd NATO Parliamentary Assembly convention held in Istanbul.
When Nahapetyan accused Turkey of supporting IS and causing instability in the Middle East, Cavusoglu retaliated by saying Armenians were dishonest.
“You are from Armenia. I am Turkish. But let’s first be honest. We have to be very honest, especially because we are politicians,” Cavusoglu said.
“I know from my years at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that our Armenian friends are, unfortunately, not being honest. How do you say we support [IS]?” Asked Cavusoglu.
The Turkish FM went on questioning whether there was another country that had killed more IS fighters than Turkey, according to remarks relayed by the government-run Anadolu Agency.
“Who is the most active against [IS] on the ground? Only in Iraq, at our base in Bashiqa, we killed more than 700 terrorists,” Cavusoglu continued.
“The operation continues as of now. How many forces are there joining the Mosul offensive? Not even during Mosul operation, 700 [IS] members have been killed,” the FM added.
Turkey deployed hundreds of soldiers and scores of tanks in late 2015 with an official purpose of training local Sunni forces to the Bashiqa base some 10 miles east of the city of Mosul.
A member of the US-led International Coalition to Counter IS, Turkey was long criticized for being inactive in the fight against the group and turning a blind eye to a flow of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq where IS declared its caliphate in 2014.
The Turkish Army launched an incursion into Syria in August with the dual aim of driving IS from its southern border and containing territorial gains made by Kurdish forces there.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany