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Turkey’s Erdoğan: We cannot stay out of Mosul operation

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As coalition forces launch a military operation in Mosul to liberate the northern Iraqi city from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey must be involved in the operation due to its shared border with Iraq, vowing to be a part of it.

Speaking in İstanbul on Monday, Erdoğan reacted to the exclusion of Turkey from the Mosul operation, saying that Turkey’s historical realities require it to be a part of the situation in neighboring Iraq.

“They say Turkey is not supposed to enter Mosul. How come? We have a 350-kilometer-long border with Iraq. We are under threat,” Erdoğan stated after lashing out at the West for criticism of human rights violations in Turkey.

“We will be part of the operation, and we will be at the table,” Erdoğan vowed, adding that Turkey has a long history in Mosul and urging his opponents, calling them gentlemen, to read history to understand the importance of Mosul for Turkey.

Erdoğan was referring to the “Misak-ı Milli” (National Pact), a 1920 set of decisions made by the last Ottoman Parliament including Mosul within Ottoman territory. The modern Turkish Republic used this pact as the basis of its negotiations in the Treaty of Lausanne.

Meanwhile, Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Numan Kurtulmuş said on Monday that Turkey is participating in the Mosul operation with 3,000 soldiers it trained at the controversial Bashiqa camp. According to Kurtulmuş, Turkey trained nearly 4,000 locals from Mosul, called the Nineveh Fighters, and that 3,000 of them are involved in the operation.

Due to Iraqi objections to the Turkish forces at Bashiqa, a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Undersecretary Ümit Yalçın is currently in Iraq to discuss the responsibilities of the Turkish military presence in the region.

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