Despite verbal spat with Iraqi PM, Turkish leader says his army will fight in Mosul

ISTANBUL, Turkey,  The fight against terrorists in Mosul will involve Turkey’s military, that country’s leader said Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 71st session of the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 20. On Tuesday, Erdogan said his army will fight terrorists in the contested city of Mosul, Iraq, despite resistance from that nation’s prime minister, who has said Turkey’s presence near the city is illegal. Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Speaking at the 9th Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he will support coalition forces in trying to stamp out Islamic State insurgents in the contested city — despite a string of recent criticisms by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

For weeks, anti-terror forces have been preparing for a large offensive in Mosul to clear out the Islamic State’s fighters there. U.S. troops have been training Iraqi forces as part of the operation.

Al-Abadi has recently said the presence of Turkish forces near Mosul is illegal. Erdoğan responded by suggesting the Iraqi leader is out of his depth.

“The Iraqi prime minister is insulting me. First, know your limits,” Erdoğan said. “You are not in my quality, my level.”

“The Turkish military will enter Mosul.”

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take up their position during a fight against militants from the Islamic State terrorist group near Mosul, Iraq. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said his army will fight against insurgents in the Mosul Offensive, despite resistance by Iraq’s prime ministerl. File Photo by Mohammed al Jumaily/UPI

Erdoğan also said his troops are near Mosul because the Iraqi government — al-Habadi himself, in fact — asked for their assistance two years ago.

Erdoğan added that he has official records that document Iraq’s request for assistance in 2014, when the troops first arrived at a training camp near the city.

“It is not important for us you scream in Iraq. We will go our own way,” the Turkish president said during his address Tuesday.

“The army of the Republic of Turkey has not lost its standing so as to take instructions from you.”

Al-Abadi’s office responded Tuesday, saying Erdoğan’s remarks show a lack of respect for both nations’ shared interests.

“Erdoğan’s remarks are irresponsible and reflect an exaggerated speech,” spokesman Saad al-Haythi said. “We have come to the belief that Turkey is not keen on resolving any issues or withdrawing its troops from Iraqi territory.

“This could lead to a security threat in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and the wider region in general.”

By Doug G. Ware