US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner on Wednesday urged Turkey to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity soon after the Iraqi prime minister warned Turkey not to trigger a regional war by maintaining a military presence in Iraq.
Answering a question during« the daily press briefing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Toner said: “All of Iraq’s neighbors need to respect Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity. That’s the premise of the counter – the global counter-ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) coalition that it operates under in Iraq, and we expect all of our partners to do the same.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on Turkey on Wednesday to immediately withdraw all its troops as both countries summoned the other’s envoys in an escalating dispute.
Turkish troops in Iraq have been a contentious issue for some time, but a recent parliamentary motion that gives the Turkish government a mandate for cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq for another year sparked a backlash from Baghdad.
The Iraqi parliament decided to remove the Turkish troops, by force if needed, and described the Turkish units as an “invading force.” The Tuesday decision then prompted mutual recriminations between the two countries and the summoning of ambassadors.
Underlining that the US is in dialogue with Turkey and Iraq, Toner told reporters that the partners of the coalition forces against ISIL, including Kurdish forces, are all focused liberating Mosul and driving ISIL out of Iraq.