World Bulletin / News Desk
According to a report in the UK daily, Turkish troops are locked in a secret fight against ISIL in north Iraq with Baghdad insisting that they leave the country.
For a number of months, just nine miles northeast of the Isil stronghold of Mosul a number of tanks overlook the sprawling Nineveh plains.
With their barrels trained on the city, Turkish ground forces are currently engaged in shelling Isil, according to a Kurdish Peshmerga general.
“If the US was doing more the Turks wouldn’t have had to come in,” said General Bahram Yasin in reference to coalition efforts to tackle Isil.
Witness in the region have reported Turkish tanks moving around the base and shelling rebels. They have also shown photographs showing two green camouflage tanks with distinctive turrets identified as Sabras (M60T), a model used by the Turkish military.
There are between 1,000 and 2,000 Turkish forces in Ba'ashiqa according to Jabar Yawar, the chief of staff of the Kurdish Peshmerga Ministry.
According to Aaron Stein, a senior resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, Ankara’s presence in Iraq is also a hedge against growing Iranian empowerment in Baghdad and Diyala.
“As part of a broader effort to deepen its influence in Iraq, Turkey sought an alliance with the KDP,” said Mr Stein. “Turkey’s actions suggest that it wants to be a key actor in the settlement of a post-ISIL Mosul.”
More than 150 Turkish soldiers, tanks and armoured personell vehicles had arrived in December, with a fruther 90 military trainers that were stationed there, training local Iraqis under the watchful eye of financer and former provincial governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, a close ally of the Turks and the KDP.
source: The Telegraph