10:01 GMT30 September 2020
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    Turkish service personnel are said to have been invited to the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq by local authorities to train Peshmerga and Turkmen fighters in counterterrorism operations ahead of an operation to free the Daesh-held city of Mosul, but Ankara could have an ulterior motive, Aydın Selcen, Turkey's former envoy to Erbil, told Sputnik.

    Aydın Selcen, who served as Turkey's consul general in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan since 2010 until 2013, specifically mentioned Atheel al-Nujaifi, the former governor of the Nineveh province, and the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan as those who asked Ankara for assistance.

    "However, one could read between the lines that [by sending its troops to Iraq] Turkey is trying to prevent the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) located close to Sinjar from strengthening its positions and establishing closer links between Sinjar and Qandil," he said.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters view the PKK as a militant organization trying to destabilize Turkey from within and by joining forces with other Kurdish groups in neighboring countries. Ankara has been locked in a decades-long standoff with the PKK at home. Last year authorities launched a major military operation in southeastern regions of Turkey, populated mostly by the Kurds.

    Aydın Selcen further noted that Turkey deployed approximately 2,000 soldiers and some military equipment to the Bashiqa camp, which is not enough for a large-scale operation as the upcoming offensive on Mosul. This could serve as tacit confirmation that Ankara is pursuing other objectives in the region.

    On Tuesday, Erdogan asserted that Turkish troops will take part in the operation to liberate Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, something Baghdad strongly opposes since Iraqi leadership has not authorized Turkey's deployment.

    "We do not need to receive permission for this, we are not planning to get it," Erdogan claimed.

    A day later, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus reiterated that "Turkey does not move on orders from others… Turkey's presence in the Bashiqa camp will remain until Mosul is rid of Daesh."


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    Kurds, counterterrorism, military deployment, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Daesh, Aydın Selcen, Mosul, Iraq, Turkey
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