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Turkey Urges All Citizens to Leave Iraq Immediately

© AP Photo / Khalid al-MousilyIraqi security forces stand guard with their military vehicle outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad December 8 2015
Iraqi security forces stand guard with their military vehicle outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad December 8 2015 - Sputnik International
Citing security risks, the Turkish government has warned any of its citizens traveling in Iraq – excluding Kurdish provinces – to leave at once.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s foreign ministry issued a statement calling for any citizens in Iraq to leave immediately.

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"We strongly advise those whose stay is not essential to leave those provinces as soon as possible," the statements reads. "The scope of our travel warning to Iraq has expanded to include all provinces except for Dohuk, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah."

All of the exempted provinces are in the northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The foreign ministry cites increased security risks, such as threats targeting Turkish businesses, as well as concerns over violence, abduction, and other attacks.

In addition, the statement warns any Turkish citizens currently residing in the Iraqi Kurdish region to avoid any area where anti-terror operations are being carried out against Daesh, also known as ISIL/the Islamic State.

The statement comes amid rising tensions between Ankara and Baghdad. Last week, hundreds of Turkish troops and artillery units entered northern Iraq. Viewing the incident as a breach of sovereignty, the Iraqi government gave Turkey 48 hours to remove the military units.

Turkey's first military tank, the Altay, seen during a military parade on Victory Day in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. - Sputnik International
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"The Iraqi government confirms its firm and categorical rejection of any action of this kind issued by any country and violates our national sovereignty and we will treat any foreign ground combat troops sent by any country as a hostile act and deal with it on that basis," reads a statement on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s website.

Baghdad has said it will file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council over the matter.

"Many states are really upset with Ankara and that could well show up in a UN discussion," Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, told Sputnik.

"Nominally the NATO allies of Turkey have supported it in the confrontation with the Russian air force, but in fact there’s a lot of grumbling; no one is happy about this confrontation."

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