Baghdad ultimatum to Ankara expires, Moscow to discuss Turkish military invasion at UNSC

© Murad Sezer
The Iraqi PM has called on NATO to intervene shortly after the deadline of a Baghdad-issued ultimatum demanding that Turkish troops leave its territory expired. Ankara has refused to withdraw.

Iraq “is incumbent upon NATO to use its powers to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory,” a statement posted on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's website said on Tuesday.

The statement was made after the Baghdad government's 48-hour deadline for Turkish withdrawal expired. Al-Abadi has already spoken with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone regarding the matter, the statement added, saying that the PM "reiterated during the call that these forces are present without the knowledge and consent of the Iraqi government."

READ MORE: ‘Incursion’: Baghdad demands Turkey withdraw ‘training’ troops from northern Iraq

Meanwhile, Russia intends to bring up Ankara's invasion of northern Iraq at the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

“The issue will be raised at a closed-door meeting,” TASS cited a diplomatic source within the organization as saying. The source also dismissed earlier reports that Moscow was going to call a separate UNSC meeting.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed grave concern over reports of the US-led coalition’s missile airstrike on the Syrian Army base near Ayyash in the Deir ez-Zor province, which killed three Syrian soldiers, as well as an airstrike in Al-Hasakah Governorate that resulted in multiple civilian casualties.

“Generally, these facts serve proof that the situation on the frontline with Islamic State is heating up,” the Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department acknowledged.

“An additional and extremely dangerous factor promoting international tensions is the unlawful presence of the Turkish armed forces on Iraqi territory near the city of Mosul, which arrived there without a request and approval of the legitimate government of Iraq,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

We consider this [military] presence unacceptable,” the statement says, adding that violation of international law principles, such as respect towards other states' sovereignty is "at the core of the emerging problems."

READ MORE: 'NATO member Turkey gets immunity from violating international law' 

According to Iraqi media, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has put the Iraqi Air Force on high alert and the ruling National Iraqi Alliance has given the prime minister the go-ahead to take “any measures” to ensure territorial integrity and protect its borders, including addressing the UN and the Arab League.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that the country is suspending further deployment of troops to Iraq, but refuses to withdraw servicemen and hardware already on Iraqi soil.

Baghdad was informed of Ankara’s decision in a phone conversation between the Turkish and Iraqi foreign ministers late on Monday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated Ankara's respect for Iraq's territorial integrity, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters.

In a separate statement, Turkish PM Davutoglu expressed readiness to visit Baghdad as soon as possible to discuss the current troop deployment crisis between Ankara and Baghdad.

Iraqi media reported earlier that on December 4 Iraq's PM said: “Turkish troops numbering around one regiment armored with tanks and artillery entered Iraqi territory,” labeling the incident as a “serious breach of Iraqi sovereignty.” He added that the move “does not conform with good neighborly relations,” and called on to Ankara to “withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory.”

Ankara’s reaction has been offhand. It claimed up to 150 of its troops had crossed into Iraq to train forces battling Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Although the US-led anti-IS coalition was aware of Turkey's move, it emerged later that Ankara’s deployment is not part of the efforts of the US-led coalition battling Islamic State.

Turkish troops did not simply cross the Iraqi border into the Nineveh province, but penetrated 100 kilometer into Iraq, according to Reuters. They reached the Bashiqa region, about 10 kilometers northeast of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which has been occupied by IS terrorists since June 2014.

Turkey is lying when it says it received Baghdad’s blessing to invade part of its territory, according to the Iraqi PM.

On Monday, the governor of the Iraqi province of Nineveh told Sputnik that the number of Turkish servicemen there has reached 900.

On December 6, Baghdad warned that “Iraq has the right to use all available options, including resorting to the UN Security Council if these forces are not withdrawn within 48 hours,” reiterating the same ultimatum on Monday giving Ankara 24 hours to leave the area.

READ MORE: ‘Hostile act:’ Iraqi PM denounces US ground forces deployment on Iraq’s territory

Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled Obeidi turned down his Turkish counterpart’s invitation to visit Ankara. A spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry said the visit will take place only after Turkey sends “positive signals” regarding the withdrawal of its troops from northern Iraq.

Ankara refused to extract its military, claiming that heavily armed troops deployed to a camp near Mosul are needed to protect an Iraqi Kurd training mission, which is taking place near the frontline with Islamic State.

“It is our duty to provide security for our soldiers providing training there,” the Guardian cited the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as saying in an interview with Kanal 24 television. “Everybody is present in Iraq ... The goal of all of them is clear. Train-and-equip advisory support is being provided. Our presence there is not a secret.”