Erdogan warns of 'plan B' over Mosul offensive

AFP , Friday 14 Oct 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 (Photo: Reuters)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Friday to resort to a "plan B" if Turkey's forces do not take part in the planned major US-backed offensive by the Iraqi army to free Mosul from jihadists.

"We are determined to take our place among the coalition forces in Iraq for Iraq's unity. If the coalition forces do not want Turkey, we will engage a plan B. If that doesn't work, we will engage plan C," Erdogan said during a speech in the Anatolian city of Konya.

He did not expand on what either plan "B" or plan "C" could entail.

Erdogan has traded several barbs with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi over the presence of Turkish armed forces in northern Iraq.

Ankara fears that the operation to retake Mosul could be spearheaded by Shiite militia and also include Kurdish militia vehemently opposed by Turkey. It has insisted that its concerns be taken into account.

While Turkey says Baghdad asked for support to train fighters to retake Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, Iraqi lawmakers said earlier this month the Turkish forces were an "occupying force" in Iraq.

But Erdogan insisted that Baghdad invited Turkish forces to the Bashiqa camp to train fighters for what is likely to be the toughest and most complex battle in Iraq's fight against the Islamic State group.

"You invited us to Bashiqa and now you're telling us to leave. Sorry (but) my compatriots are there. My Turkmen brothers are there, my Arab brothers are there, my Kurdish brothers are there. They say, 'come', they say, 'please help us'" Erdogan said.

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