A diplomatic row over Turkey's deployment of troops near Mosul has soured relations between Ankara and Baghdad. Iraq has taken its case to UN Security Council, accusing Turkey of violating international law.
Iraq appealed Friday to the UN Security Council to demand that Turkey remove its troops from northern Iraq, calling the incursion a "flagrant violation" of international law.
"We call on the Security Council to demand that Turkey withdraw its forces immediately ... and not to violate Iraqi sovereignty again," Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said in a letter to the Security Council.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who this month holds the rotating presidency, said the letter was being taken seriously.
"There's growing alarm from the Iraqi government," Power said. "Any troop deployment must have the consent of the Iraqi government."
Turkey not budging despite Baghdad's ire
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has asked the UN Security Council to "shoulder its responsibilities" and order the withdrawal of the Turkish troops.
The official complaint follows declarations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said Ankara would not bow to Iraqi demands and that the mission to ostensibly train Sunni Arab fighters and personnel from the Kurdish peshmerga in advance of an anticipated recapture of city of Mosul, held by the self-styled “Islamic State” since last year.
"There is no way we can withdraw our soldiers from northern Iraq now," Erdogan told reporters. "There was a deployment, not for combat, but to protect soldiers providing training there."
Earlier in the day, Iraq's top Sh'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged the Iraqi government to show "no tolerance" for any infringement of the country's sovereignty. Sistani's spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Karbala'i, did not explicitly name Turkey.
"The Iraqi government is responsible for protecting Iraq's sovereignty and must not tolerate any side that infringes upon on it, whatever the justifications and necessities," Karbalai'I said during Friday prayers.
But the cleric also urged citizens to show restraint towards foreign residents of Iraq, after Shiite militants threatened to use force against Turkey and target its interests to force it to pull out.
jar/bw (Reuters, AP)