World / Middle East

Iraq welcomes continuing withdrawal of Turkish troops

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-21 21:27

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government on Monday welcomed pullout of Turkish troops from Iraqi territory and expressed its hope to complete withdrawal.

"The Council of Ministers reiterates its welcome with Turkish announcement of withdrawal from Iraqi territories, and hoped a complete withdrawal," the government said in a statement issued after a cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The statement stressed on "the government's firm position not to allow presence of any military ground force on Iraqi soil and to respect Iraq's national sovereignty."

On Sunday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in a statement "what has been reported in the media is a step in the right direction," stressing that Baghdad will carry on with its complaint to the UN Security Council and Arab League until full withdrawal is achieved.

The welcome by Iraqi cabinet came following a Turkish statement on Saturday which said that it is continuing withdrawal of its troops from Iraq's northern province of Nineveh.

The crisis between the two countries sparked on Dec 4, when reports said a Turkish training battalion equipped with armored vehicles was deployed near the city of Mosul to train Iraqi paramilitary groups in fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.

Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, has been under the IS control since June 2014.

Baghdad has insisted that the Turkish troops had no authorization from the Iraqi government and thus demanded their withdrawal, while Ankara called the troops only a routine rotation of the trainers.

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