BAGHDAD: Iraq Saturday denied claims made by Ankara that its soldiers on a controversial base near the northern city of Mosul killed 18 extremists after coming under attack.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself announced on television Friday that the ISIS group had tried to infiltrate the base in the Bashiqa area.

 

He said Turkish troops there to train Iraqi forces repelled the attack, killing 18 IS members.

 

The Joint Operations Command in Baghdad however flatly denied any such thing had happened.

 

“It also denies any terrorist attack on Turkish forces by Daesh (ISIS) forces in the Bashiqa area,” a statement said.

 

A colonel in the Kurdish peshmerga forces that control the area, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, also denied the Turkish base had come under attack.

 

He said ISIS had fired some mortar rounds in the area but not at the base specifically and that the response to that routine attack was handled by the peshmerga.

 

Iraq argues that Turkey deployed troops and hardware in Bashiqa without asking Baghdad in what was therefore a violation of national sovereignty.

 

The Mosul frontline is controlled on the anti-ISIS side by the peshmerga forces of the autonomous region of Kurdistan, with which Ankara has very close ties.

 

Turkey’s military presence has become a bone of contention, with Baghdad accusing Ankara of using the pretext of training to increase its influence in northern Iraq.

 

The base near Bashiqa is an area controlled by the peshmerga but not part of the official borders of the autonomous Kurdish region.

 

Baghdad took the issue up with the U.N. Security Council and U.S. President Barack Obama had to pressure Turkey to deescalate the diplomatic row.

 

Turkey pulled some troops out of the base last month but it is unclear how many remain.

 

Daily Star