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Middle East

Iraq denies Turkish involvement in military operation to retake Mosul

The Iraqi military has denied that Turkish forces are participating in the operation to retake Mosul. Tensions are high as the US-led coalition seeks to topple the "self-styled "Islamic State" (IS)" terror group.

The Iraqi Armed Forces' information unit issued the statement shortly after Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported that Turkish troops were providing support for Kurdish Peshmerga forces at their request.

"The spokesman of the Joint Operations Command denies Turkish participation of any kind in operations for the liberation of Nineveh," the army said, referring to the province where Mosul is located.

According to Anadolu, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that his country's military had provided "artillery, tanks and howitzers" to the Peshmerga, thousands of whom are currently involved in a military operation in Bashiqa, northeast of the city, near where Turkey has a military base.

Though Turkey has been active in Iraq before, its presence has sparked concerns in the country, especially among the Shiite population. Following the beginning of the offensive to retake Mosul, Turkey had pushed for a role in the military operation, something that Iraq rejected despite reports that the two countries had reached an agreement on the matter.

Karte, Infografik Anti-IS-Koalition offensive on Mosul ENG

A long fight ahead?

On Sunday, Peshmerga and Iraqi forces launched an offensive to take back Bashiqa, with the US providing support. Peshmerga spokesperson Halgord Hekmet said his troops were in need of more military resources.

Members of the US-led onslaught say the battle to recapture the city could drag on, though they hope to take advantage of divisions within IS's ranks by recruiting members of the terror group to their side.

On Monday, a suspected airstrike hit the women's section of a Shiite mosque in the nearby town of Daquq, killing over a dozen people. The US coalition said it had determined that it wasn't responsible for the incident. However, Iraqi lawmaker Hanan al-Fatlawi called for an investigation, saying only members of the US-led occupation could've been responsible.

The military operation is going into its second week now, as the US and its allies seek to reclaim the city after IS claimed the city as its Sunni caliphate in 2014.

blc/kl  (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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