Turkey says it is withdrawing more troops from flashpoint in Iraq

Turkey is pulling more troops out of northern Iraq in an effort to calm tensions with the Iraqi government, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday, a day after US President Barack Obama urged Ankara to press ahead with a withdrawal.

Turkish troops are stationed at a flashpoint military base near Mosul in northern Iraq, sparking a row this month between Baghdad and Ankara. Washington wants the matter resolved, so the two countries can focus on fighting the Islamic State militant group, which is known in the region as Daesh.

"Turkey, in recognition of the Iraqi concerns and in accordance with the requirements of the fight against Daesh, is continuing to move military forces from Ninewa province that were the source of the miscommunication," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

The extremist group controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria.

The Turkish government says its soldiers in Iraq are on training missions with Sunni Arab groups and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who are battling the Islamic State organization.

Iraq said the deployment was without its consent and lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations.

US President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone Friday.

Turkey withdrew some troops earlier this week from Basheeqa base, but Iraq has continued to demand a "full withdrawal."

Turkish troops came under an from Islamic State forces this week in the area.

Last update: Sat, 19/12/2015 - 22:04

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