Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad to condemn “provocative” comments by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim about the planned operation to dislodge IS militants from the city of Mosul.
Yildrim said the operation could spark sectarian tensions if the Sunni Arab-majority region around Mosul were to be placed under Shia militia control after the offensive.
He added that Mosul, which was seized by IS in 2014, belongs to its majority-Sunni residents.
The comments prompted the government-backed Shia militias known as the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces) to issue a statement, condemning Erdogan’s “racist proposal to change Mosul’s demographics”.
“Mosul is a multi-faith city… nobody has the right – especially leaders of foreign countries – to impose a discriminatory policy on any part of Iraq,” the statement posted on Twitter read.
In Ankara, meanwhile, Turkey summoned the Iraqi envoy to protest an Iraqi parliament resolution,denouncing Turkish troop presence in the region of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, where Turkish forces are training anti-IS fighters.
“We have asked more than once the Turkish side not to intervene in Iraqi matters and I fear that the Turkish adventure could turn into a regional war,” Abadi said in comments broadcast on state TV.
The extension of the mandate permits Turkish military action against IS and other groups deemed by Ankara to be terrorists such as the Syrian Kurdish political group the Popular Protection Units [YPG] which has close relations with the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK].