World Bulletin / News Desk
Last December, Turkey sent some 150 troops and about two dozen combat tanks to Camp Bashiqa, located some 12 kilometers (7.46 miles) northeast of the ISIL-held city of Mosul.
“The U.S. has a plan [for an operation] led by the Iraqi government to clear the city of ISIL elements. We say, we support this plan,” said the prime minister.
“Turkish military forces are training locals in fighting ISIL, it is very clear,” said Yildirim at a press conference in Istanbul.
The presence of Turkish troops has recently been criticized by Baghdad. Yildirim said Thursday that Turkey's military presence in Bashiqa would continue despite the Iraqi parliament mislabeling Turkish troops in the country as “occupiers” earlier this week.
The prime minister went on to say Sunday that “Mosul belongs to the [people of Mosul]. Do not let outsiders in and ruin the original demographic fabric [of the city], which might lead to a new civil war. We follow this attentively.”
Iraq has suffered a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when ISIL captured the northern city of Mosul and overran large swathes of territory in the northern and western parts of the country.
According to the UN, more than 3.4 million people are now displaced in Iraq -- more than half of them children -- while more than 10 million are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.