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Baghdad Demands Turkey Withdraw Troops From Northern Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on December 30 that Turkey had not respected a commitment to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq, where they are training an Iraqi militia to fight Islamic State.

Abadi's remarks came on the same day as his Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari warned that Iraq could resort to military action if it's forced to defend itself from what Baghdad calls an invasion by Turkish forces.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking on NTV, responded that the dispute was the result of "miscommunication" and if Baghdad wants to use force, it should be against the Islamic State group.

He said that Ankara respects Iraqi sovereignty, but added that Baghdad is not in control of one third of its own territory.
Turkey deployed around 150 troops earlier in December, citing heightened security risks near Bashiqa military base, where the training has been conducted.

Turkey later withdrew some of the troops and said it would continue to pull out of Bashiqa, but it pointed out that a total withdrawal was out of the question.

Abadi said there was no reason for Turkey to expose its trainers to danger by sending them "deep inside Iraqi borders."

Bashiqa is about 90 km from the Turkish border.

The diplomatic row is expected to be discussed during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's meetings with Turkish leaders in Ankara next month.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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