Yıldırım visits peshmerga lines near Mosul

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Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government's Chief of Staff, General Jamal Mohammad (left 3) briefs Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (C) and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani (right 3) during their visit to the Mount Zartik where the Peshmerga forces fight against ISIL, in Arbil, Iraq on January 8, 2017. Hakan Goktepe / Anadolu Agency

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım visited the peshmerga front near Mosul on Sunday, at the end of a two-day visit to Iraq, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (IKRG) President Massoud Barzani accompanied Yıldırım during his visit to the front lines near Zartak Mountain, where the Mosul operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is being conducted. Briefed on the operation by IKRG Chief of General Staff Jamal Mohammad, Yıldırım observed the operations taking place around Mosul.

Both leaders focused on the fight against ISIL and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region during their meeting in Arbil on Sunday.

“The PKK’s expansion toward the West and finding shelter in Sinjar is not acceptable to us, either. This is an issue of security,” Yıldırım told reporters after the meeting, underlining that it is not only Turkey’s problem, but also that of the IKRG and Baghdad and needs to be solved through joint efforts.

On Saturday Yıldırım met in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, where talks focused on tension between the two countries over the Turkish military presence in Bashiqa, near Mosul. Baghdad and Ankara have agreed to resolve the issue amicably.

Following a meeting with Yıldırım, al-Abadi told Iraqi state television that Turkey has agreed to withdraw its troops from Bashiqa.

Yıldırım said Ankara would neither be part of nor approve any act that would endanger Iraq’s sovereignty. Yıldırım added that the Bashiqa camp row would be resolved amicably, along with clearing out ISIL.

Turkey has an estimated 2,000 troops in Iraq, around 500 of them at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq training Iraqi fighters who hope to participate in the battle to recapture Mosul, according to the Turkish media.

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