Middle East

Turkey 'to withdraw more troops from Iraq'

Protesters in Basra, Iraq, burn Turkish flag during demonstration calling for withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq. 18 Dec 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Tensions between Iraq and Turkey have risen over the deployment

Turkey says it will pull more of its troops out of northern Iraq, following a partial withdrawal earlier this week.

The foreign ministry said it acknowledged a "miscommunication" with Iraq over the deployment of its forces.

It comes a day after US President Barack Obama urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to "de-escalate tensions" with Baghdad.

Turkey sent at least 150 troops into northern Iraq earlier this month saying they were to protect military trainers.

Turkey has deployed troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul - a city controlled by Islamic State (IS) - since 2014 to train Iraqi Kurdish forces.

But the Iraqi government said the latest move had been carried out without consultation and violated national sovereignty and international law.

"Turkey... acknowledges the miscommunication with the government of Iraq over the deployments of Turkish protection forces," the Turkish foreign ministry said in the statement.

"Turkey, in recognition of the Iraqi concerns and in accordance with the requirements of the fight against Daesh [IS], is continuing to move military forces from Nineveh province that were the source of miscommunication."

The statement did not say how many troops would be moved or where they would go to.

On Monday, Turkey's state-run news agency quoted military officials as saying a 10 or 12-vehicle convoy had left Bashiqa camp and was moving north.

It came days after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu's office said it had decided to reorganise its military personnel at Bashiqa following talks with Iraqi officials.

The Turkish government enjoys close relations with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

But it considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) - whose Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia is a key ally of the US-led coalition against IS - as an enemy because it is an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).