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Arab League Demands Turkish Troop Pullout From Iraq

The Arab League on December 24 backed Iraq in its dispute with Turkey over troops Ankara stationed in northern Iraq.

Arab foreign ministers after meeting in Cairo condemned the Turkish deployment as an "assault on Iraqi sovereignty" and a "threat to Arab national security," and demanded that the troops be withdrawn.

Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Heli said the Turkish troops also "increased tumult in the region."

Turkey announced December 20 that it had begun withdrawing troops in a bid to calm tensions with Baghdad.

The troops were in Iraq's Nineveh province near territory held by the Islamic State group (IS) as part of a long-running Turkish program to help train forces fighting IS.

Ankara sparked the confrontation with Baghdad by recently deploying reinforcements to protect the trainers, some of whom were wounded by IS missile strikes.

In Cairo, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Turkey was not really withdrawing the troops, but merely redeploying them to Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.

"Sovereignty is sovereignty, and the territories are one," he said.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

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