Baghdad demanded Saturday the immediate withdrawal of forces it said Turkey illegally sent into Iraq, which is struggling to assert its sovereignty while receiving foreign assistance against the Islamic State group.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu played down the military activity as “routine rotation activity” and “reinforcement against security risks”, while also labelling any misinterpretation as a “provocation”.

The Kurdish regional government — which has forces in the area where the Turkish troops deployed and close ties with Ankara — indicated that Turkey aimed to expand a camp near the main IS hub of Mosul.

The troops, which Baghdad said had tanks and artillery, were sent to the camp in Nineveh province, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Turkish border, where Ankara’s forces have been training Sunni fighters hoping to retake Mosul from the jihadists.

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