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Turkey 'Just Looking After Own Security' With Tank Deployment to Iraqi Border

© Sputnik / Umit BektasTurkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016
Turkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Turkey's deployment of tanks and armored vehicles to the Iraqi border is an attempt to protect its national security, and that of ethnic Turkmens and Sunni Arabs in northern Iraq, Turkish politician Celalettin Yavuz told Sputnik Turkiye.

A Turkish army position is seen near the Oncupinar crossing gate close to the town of Kilis, south central Turkey, close to the Syria border, on February 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
Turkey Moving Armored Vehicles to Kilis on Syrian Border
On Tuesday Turkey began to deploy tanks and armored vehicles from central Anatolian cities to the town of Silopi near the Iraqi border.

After the deployment began, Turkey's Defence Minister Fikri Isik said that "Turkey should be prepared for all eventualities," and referred to "important developments in our region."

"On the one hand there is a serious fight against terror within Turkey’s borders, and on the other there are important developments just across our border," Isik said.

With support from the US-led coalition, the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, the Iraqi army is preparing for an assault on Mosul, which has been under the control of the Daesh terror group since 2014.

Ankara has argued against the involvement of the Shiite militia in the operation to free Mosul, but its concerns and desire for Turkish military involvement have been rebuffed by the government in Baghdad.

Celalettin Yavuz of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party told Sputnik Turkiye that security concerns have prompted the Turkish government to deploy its army to the Iraqi border, in spite of Baghdad's objections.

"The deployment of Turkish troops to the Iraqi border started with the operation to liberate Mosul and the surrounding area from Daesh fighters. The Iraqi government is against the deployment of Turkish armed forces near Iraqi territory. However, Baghdad isn't in a position to control all Iraqi territory, where there is terrorism activity threatening Turkey."

"In order to guarantee the security of its own territory, Turkey has been forced to deploy an armed contingent to the Turkish-Iraqi border. Turkey isn't trying to split up Iraq, it is just looking after its own security," Yavuz said.

Turkish army tanks are stationed near the Syrian border in Karkamis, Turkey, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 - Sputnik International
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As well as its own national security, the Turkish government also says it has a responsibility to protect ethnic Turkmens and Sunni Arabs around Tal Afar and Mosul from possible conflict with Shia and Kurdish militia groups.

"The Shiite group Hashdi Shabi, supported by Iran, is trying to establish control over areas inhabited by Turkmen. Of course, this is not Daesh, but Hashdi Shabi militants are quite radical. For example, it is known that they tortured Sunnis in areas liberated from Daesh," Yavuz said.

"Ankara is worried by their bellicose statement about Mosul. It seems that they want to take revenge not against Daesh militants, but against the entire Sunni population of the region. In these circumstances, Turkey has to stand up for the Turkmen."

"It is also known Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants are trying to capture the area of Sinjar, north-west of Mosul, and set up camp there. Turkey can't allow that to happen," Yavuz said.

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