Turkey's president is warning that the country could respond if an Iraqi Shia militia "terrorizes" the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tel Afar, near Mosul.
The state-run Anadolu agency reported that Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Saturday that his government will be closely monitoring the behavior of the Hashd al-Shaabi militia and will seek to safeguard the rights of ethnic Turkmens in Iraq.
"Tel Afar is an entirely Turkmen town . if Hashd al-Shaabi starts terrorizing it, then our response will certainly be different," Erdogan said.
The use of government-backed Shia militias is a sensitive issue in the ongoing battle to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.
Militia commanders have said that their forces will not enter Mosul but will instead focus on surrounding towns like Tel Afar.