The Russian Foreign Minister has slammed the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil as “unacceptable,” and has called on Ankara to pull out from the Arab country.
“We demand that Turkey withdraw its troops from the Iraqi territory where they are located to strengthen the sovereignty of Iraq, according to ex-Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu,” Sergei Lavrov said.
Press TV reports:
Last December, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s northern Nineveh Province.
Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh terrorists, but Baghdad denounced the unauthorized move as a violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty.
“This (keeping the troops in Iraq) is an absolutely unacceptable position,” Lavrov said, adding, “In principle, I believe that what the Turks are doing deserves far greater public attention on the part of our Western partners.”
The top Russian diplomat said Moscow is assisting Iraq in combating terrorism by providing arms to both Baghdad and the Kurdish fighters in the country.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called on Russia to pull out its forces from Syria, where the Russian military is conducting a Damascus government-sanctioned aerial campaign against terrorist groups.
‘Time running out for US’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov said the postponement of the start of air raids on the terrorist groups that have not joined a ceasefire in Syria will expire this week.
Moscow put forward a proposal for joint aerial assaults with Washington back in May, but the US has so far refused to cooperate.
“They (the Americans) have now asked for a few more days before the scheme announced by us is enacted, according to which [those] who have not joined reconciliation, are declared a legal target… These several days expire literally this week,” he said.
The nation-wide cessation of hostilities, brokered by Moscow and Washington, was introduced in Syria in February in a bid to facilitate dialogue between rival parties in the country. Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups were excluded from the truce.
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