Turkey's president has told Iraq's prime minister to "know his limits," warning that Ankara will not take instructions from Baghdad on its troop presence near Mosul and escalating a row between the two US allies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul on Tuesday that Iraq's Haider al-Abadi had himself asked for the military base in Bashiqa, 12 kilometres north-east of the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul.
Ankara sent its forces to the Bashiqa region of northern Iraq last year, saying it was a routine rotation of soldiers engaged in training missions against Islamic State known to the Iraqi government. Baghdad insists this was done without its permission.
"Now, he (al-Abadi) says, 'Withdraw from here,'" Erdogan said, according to state news agency Anadolu. "The army of the Republic of Turkey has not lost its standing so as to take instructions from you."
Erdogan slammed al-Abadi: "You are not at my level, you do not have my rank, you don't have my caliber, you are not of the same quality as me."
"He (al-Abadi) insults me ... It is not important for us that you scream in Iraq. We will go our own way," Erdogan warned, and said that Turkey would not be "a mere spectator" in Iraq.
Al-Abadi, who has called for the withdrawal of Turkish troops, was sarcastic in this response.
"Indeed we are not your equals," al-Abadi said. "We will liberate our land with the determination of our men, not via Skype," he said, in an apparent reference to Erdogan's mobile phone call-in to a Turkish television station to rally his supporters during an attempted military coup in July.
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