World Bulletin / News Desk
Remarks attributed to an anti-ISIL coalition spokesman that characterized Turkey’s military presence in Iraq as “illegal” are “blatantly and completely false”, the Pentagon told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
Some Arab media reports have claimed the U.S. does not want a Turkish presence in Iraq, quoting Col. John Dorrian as saying Turkey's presence at the Bashiqa base near Mosul, "is illegal."
The Pentagon refuted those claims in an email to Anadolu Agency.
“Col. Dorrian made no such statement,” Matthew Allen, a Defense Department spokesman said in the email. “Nothing he has said in his briefings, which you have attended, could or should have been misconstrued to imply such a statement.”
Allen said Dorrian specifically mentioned in his briefings that he would not discuss the topic and that the issue is for the governments of Turkey and Iraq to resolve.
“We continue to believe that this is a diplomatic matter for the Governments of Iraq and Turkey to resolve and we support continued dialogue that leads to a resolution of this matter,” Allen added.
He also shared the Pentagon’s general position about Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, noting that the coalition’s military force is in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government.
Turkish Special Forces have been training Kurdish peshmerga forces at the Bashiqa base since last year at the request of the Iraqi Kurdish regional government.
One day after Turkey’s parliament voted earlier this week to extend the army’s mandate at Bashiqa, Iraqi lawmakers rejected the extension and demanded a review of that country’s relations with Turkey.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Wednesday that Ankara is ready to cooperate with Iraq’s central government on Bashiqa if it focuses on maintaining the country’s territorial integrity and defeating terror groups, including ISIL.
Kurtulmus said the presence of Turkish troops is known by the government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Iraq’s north.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman condemned the Iraqi parliament’s decision and summoned Iraqi envoy to Ankara to the ministry.