Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of ‘weakness’ as tensions rose Wednesday after Ankara deployed tanks and artillery near Iraq.
Abadi had warned Ankara not to provoke a confrontation and said any invasion would see Iraq’s northern neighbor repelled after Turkey sent the 30-vehicle convoy to the southeastern district of Silopi on Tuesday.
The two countries traded barbs last month over Ankara’s military intevention in Iraq’s north and its insistence that it would play a role in the operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, from the Takfiri ISIL group.
“If you have the strength, why did you surrender Mosul to terror organizations? If you are so strong, why has the PKK occupied your lands for years?
“You cannot even fight against a terror organization, you are weak,” Cavusoglu added, quoted by the official news agency Anadolu.
The Turkish foreign minister was referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is waging an insurgency inside Turkey and has bases in northern Iraq.
Ankara claims its artillery hit ISIL positions in Iraq during the Mosul operation but Baghdad denies any Turkish involvement and has called for Turkish troops training fighters near Mosul to be withdrawn.
Iraqi forces fought their way into the northern city that has been held by ISIL since June 2014 in the third week of the operation.