Turkish forces foiled an attack on their training camp in Iraq, killing 18 jihadists, said President Erdogan in defense of an unauthorized military deployment.
However, Iraq’s military said no battles between Turkish troops and ISIS recently took place.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants attempted to infiltrate the Turkish training camp in Iraq this week, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed, referring to an event that allegedly took place on January 7.
“I have been told that some 18 Daesh [the Arabic name for IS] terrorists who tried to sneak into the Bashiqa camp were neutralized,” he said, adding that no Turkish troops were injured in the fight.
The Turkish President has taken the opportunity to praise the usefulness of the military installation located near the city of Mosul, saying that the ISIS attack “proves just how appropriate was the step taken regarding the camp.”
“It is clear that with our armed soldiers there, our officers giving the training are prepared for anything at any time,” he told reporters in Istanbul.
However, a statement from Iraq has cast doubt on Erdogan’s announcement. According to Iraq’s joint operations command, there was no such attack on a Turkish base or any recent military engagement between the Turkish forces and ISIS whatsoever.
“The joint operations command denies there was a terrorist attack on the position of Turkish forces in Bashiqa by the terrorist Daesh recently,” said a news flash on state television, Reuters reported. According to another similar statement: “The joint operations command denies what was relayed in some media outlets from the Turkish president about clashing between the Turkish forces inside Iraqi territory and the terrorist Daesh whether in Bashiqa or any other areas.”
Relations between Ankara and Baghdad have been tense following Turkey’s December 4 unauthorized deployment of about 150 soldiers backed by artillery and around 25 tanks to camp Bashiqa, a base near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that is controlled by terrorists.
While Turkey claims its “training mission” falls under the mandate of the US-led coalition, Baghdad insists that the deployment was illegal and in breach of the country’s sovereignty. Facing harsh backlash from Iraq and global criticism, Turkey has vowed to partially withdraw its troops, but failed to deliver on promises.
The camp, located some 140 kilometers south of the Turkish border and about 20 km from IS-controlled Mosul, is allegedly being used to train Iraqi militia against to fight the jihadists. Official Iraqi troops are not present in the area ever since the Nineveh province has fallen under terrorists’ control in June 2014.
“There is no Iraqi armed forces, there are only terrorist groups’ camps,” Razzaq Mihebis, an MP from the Iraqi Badr bloc,told RT earlier, rejecting Erdogan’s justifications for the deployment as an “absolute lie.”
“They [Iraq] asked us to train their soldiers and showed us this base as the venue,” Erdogan reiterated on Friday. He claimed that the “negative developments”, meaning Baghdad’s backlash against Turkish invasion, began only after “problems between Russia and Turkey” had emerged.
However, Turkish forces are “not taking any action against” IS militants even when located right “in front of them,” another MP told RT last month, referring to some videos shown to parliamentarians by the country’s security services.
“It was clear from the beginning that Turkey is the main sponsor of Daesh. Now [Turkey] created camps in northern Iraq and invaded our territory under the pretext of fighting against Daesh. But in reality it is training their fighters,” Iraqi MP from the State of Law bloc, Awatif Nima said.
Given the overwhelming and evidence there is no doubt that oil is being smuggled into Turkey on a massive scale. But there is also proof that Turkey is keeping its border open for the jihadi fighters and aiding them to get medical treatment on its territory before sending them back to fight in Syria and Iraq, Iraqi MP and a former national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie told RT.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the Popular Front’s Badr Organization, one of Iraq’s most prominent Shiite militias, Karim al-Nouri told RT that their forces were able to secure enough data from the dead ISIS terrorists’ bodies to directly implicate Turkey in involvement with IS affairs.
“We have documents that prove that the largest logistical support [to ISIS] and supply routes are supplied by the Turks,” he claimed. According to al-Nouri, jihadists are also freely crossing the Turkish border, where they are being offered “save heavens.”