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Iraq: Deal reached over Turkish forces’ pullout from Bashiqa

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Saturday an agreement had been reached with Turkey over an Iraqi demand that Turkish forces withdraw from a town near Mosul in the north of the country, Iraqi state TV reported.
Abadi met his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in Baghdad.
State television did not provide further details about the agreement over the town of Bashiqa, where Turkish forces have been stationed since before a recent offensive against Daesh in northern Iraq.
It said Turkey had pledged to “respect the sovereignty of Iraq” and that Baghdad and Ankara agreed not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs.
Iraq and Turkey came to blows in October over the continued presence of Turkish forces in Bashiqa and elsewhere in northern Iraq, with each government summoning the other’s ambassador just as the US-backed campaign to drive Daesh out of Mosul was set to begin.
The issue grew into a rare and bitter public feud between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abadi.
At one point, Erdogan gave a speech telling Al-Abadi to “know his place,” and adding, “you are not at my level, you are not my equivalent, you are not of the same quality as me.”
Al-Abadi responded by mocking Erdogan’s use of a video messaging app during Turkey’s failed coup last year.
An Iraqi court later issued an arrest warrant against the former governor of Ninevah province, of which Mosul is the capital, Atheel Al-Nujaifi, accusing him of facilitating the entry of the Turkish forces.
Meanwhile, Iraqi special forces closed in on the Tigris river that runs through central Mosul on Saturday, advancing in parallel with other troops and forcing Daesh retreat in its last major stronghold in the country.
Daesh has been driven out of more than half the areas it held east of the Tigris river, which bisects the city, but is still in control of the west. It will be harder for the terrorists to defend Mosul once Iraqi forces reach the river.
Detailed report — Page 4

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