PM claims Turkish jets participating in Mosul operation but short on details

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Turkish Prime Minister and leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Binali Yildirim speaks during AK Party's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on October 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said Turkish jets are taking part in an operation seeking to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but later admitted that he was lacking any details on the effort.

On Monday a US-backed force launched a military operation in Mosul to liberate the northern Iraqi city from ISIL. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that Turkey must be involved in the operation due to its shared border with Iraq, vowing to be a part of it.

Speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Yıldırım said: “We are closely following what is happening there [in Mosul]. We have made our calculations and plans. We will take part in the operation, we will be at the table as well; we stand behind our words. The militia we trained at Bashiqa [camp] is now at the front [of the operation]. The Nineveh Fighters [trained by Turkey] have joined the operation. Our air forces are also taking part in aerial operations.”

Yıldırım’s remarks about the Turkish air forces taking part in the Mosul operation emerged as breaking news from media outlets.

However, as he was leaving Parliament Yıldırım was asked to elaborate on his remarks at the party meeting because they were interpreted to mean that Turkish warplanes were taking part in the Mosul operation.

In response the prime minister said: “Now, I don’t know the details of the operations there. But the important thing is to take part in the effort.”

The build-up for the offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL, which has held Iraq’s second city since June 2014, was marked by a bitter squabble between Ankara and Baghdad over the planning.

Turkey had raised concerns over the possible involvement of Iraqi Shiite and anti-Ankara Kurdish militia in the offensive, while Baghdad had criticized the presence of a contingent of Turkish troops in Bashiqa, north of Mosul.

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