Turkish PM: We Support US Plan for Mosul

Ankara supports the US in its efforts to help the Iraqi Army recapture Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıbinalildirım said on Sunday.

“The US has a plan led by the Iraqi government to clear the city of Daesh [ISIS] elements. We say, we support this plan,” Yildirim said.

“Turkish military forces are training locals to fighting Daesh, it is very clear,” he added.

Ankara has sought to participate in the Mosul offensive, but is currently at loggerheads with Baghdad over its deployment of troops to the Iraqi town of Bashiqa near Mosul where Turkish forces have been training local troops.

“Mosul belongs to the people of the city. Do not let outsiders in and ruin the original demographic fabric, which might lead to a new civil war. We follow this attentively,” Yıldırım said in an apparent reference to the potential consequences of Shiite militia participating in the battle for the Sunni Arab-majority city.

On Friday, US special envoy to the global anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, detailed the plan for the offensive, which will be launched on Baghdad’s call. A 30,000-strong force consisting of Peshmerga, Iraqi security and counter-terrorism forces, local police, and 14,000 Nineveh tribal fighters are prepared for the offensive.

Any forces not coming under Iraqi control will not participate, he said. But the coalition is prepared to bring the Turkish-trained local forces under Iraqi command for the operation.