ERBIL, Kurdistan Region Iraqi Shia militias warn Turkey that the troops stationed near Mosul will be their target.
As the Mosul liberation operation to retake the city from the Islamic State (IS) approaches, challenges arise before the operation, including the presence of Turkish troops in Bashiq, northern Mosul.
Iranian-backed Shia militias, Asaib ahl al-Haq, in a statement last week threatened Turkish troops near Mosul, stating that “Turkish troops deployed near Mosul will be our target.”
Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib ahl al-Haq militia stated that “It is not Turkey or Erdogan that decide on the participation of Hashd al-Shaabi. We will participate in the operation and it is us who will not allow Turkish troops to participate.”
Jawad al-Tilbawi, a Hashd al-Shaabi official told Iraqi local media outlets on Saturday that “The Turkish troops in northern Mosul will be a legitimate target of the joint Iraqi security forces,” adding that “We will deal with Turkish troops in the same way we are treating Daesh [an Arabic pejorative name for IS].”
Elsewhere, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a press conference on Friday that “Involvement of Shia militias in the Mosul operation will not bring peace to the city. But it will increase problems.”
Mosul is the second biggest Iraqi province in terms of population and area that hosts Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, Muslims, Christians and Ezidis. IS extremists took control over the city in June 2015 following the retreat of the Iraqi army.
The Iraqi government has requested the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the presence of Turkish troops in the Iraqi soil and it is expected that the topic be discussed by the UNSC on Monday.
Editing by Ava Homa