ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Sunday revealed his country’s forces stationed in a base east of the Iraqi city of Mosul were supporting a Kurdish offensive against the Islamic State (IS).
In remarks carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency, Yildirim said the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga Forces “requested help” from the Turkish troops.
“Peshmerga forces moved to clear the town of Bashiqa from [IS]. They sought help from our soldiers there,” Yildirim stated.
“We [are] supporting them with artillery, tanks, and howitzers,” explained the Turkish Prime Minister.
There has been no confirmation by Kurdish officials of any Turkish participation in the offensive to capture the Ezidi Kurdish town of Bashiqa, some 12 miles north-east of Mosul.
Yildirim’s revelation comes amid an almost two-months-old contention between his government and that of his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi.
The two have been in disagreement over the legality of the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil since late 2015.
Iraq has repeatedly demanded a withdrawal of Turkish soldiers and strongly opposed their participation in the ongoing operation to recapture Mosul from the IS.
Turkey, on its part, has insisted on keeping its troops in Iraq, voicing concern about the security of the Sunni-majority population of Mosul who it argues may come under attacks by Iranian-backed Shia militias.
Peshmerga forces commenced an operation in the morning toward Bashiqa with aerial support from the United States-led Coalition forces that were bombing IS targets.
Since the operation to liberate Mosul began on Oct. 17, Kurdish and Iraqi forces have recaptured over 30 villages.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany