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'Know your place': Erdogan slaps down Iraqi PM over Turkish troops in Iraq

'It's not important at all how you shout from Iraq,' Erdogan said. 'You should know that we will do what we want to do'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the 23rd World Energy Congress on 10 October, 2016 in Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday snubbed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's criticism of the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq ahead of a planned operation to retake Mosul city, urging him to "know your place".

In his address to the ninth Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul, Erdogan reminded the Iraqi prime minister that the presence of Turkish military in Iraq was due to a demand made by the Iraqi government itself.

Erdogan said al-Abadi himself had asked for the formation of a military base in Bashiqa, located some 12 kilometers northeast of the Daesh-held city of Mosul, during the term of former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"We have live records of all of them and it will be broadcast on television channels today or tomorrow," he said.

"Now, he [al-Abadi] says 'withdraw from here'. The army of the Republic of Turkey has not lost its standing so as to take instructions from you," he said. “You are not my interlocutor, you are not at my level.”

"It's not important at all how you shout from Iraq. You should know that we will do what we want to do," he added.

"Who's that? The Iraqi prime minister. First you know your place!"

With his latest remarks, Erdogan is "pouring oil on the fire," Saad al-Hadithi, the Iraqi premier's spokesman, told AFP, adding that Turkey's responses had made an issue of law and security into a "problem of a personal nature".

"It seems that Turkey is not serious about solving the problem with Iraq," Hadithi said.

Abadi was referring to Erdogan's famous appeal via FaceTime for Turkish citizens to resist a July attempt to overthrow the government, rallying resistance that helped to thwart the coup.

Turkey has said its troops would remain in Iraq despite Baghdad's growing anger ahead of a planned operation to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) group.

The troops are in northern Iraq under an agreement with the Kurdish Regional Government, which has close economic and political ties with Ankara, but Baghdad is opposed to their presence.

Ankara maintains an estimated 2,000 troops in Iraq - around 500 of them in the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq, training local fighters who will join the battle to recapture Mosul, according to Turkish media reports.

Baghdad has repeatedly called on Ankara to pull out its troops, with Abadi warning the Turkish deployment risked a regional war.

The dispute between Ankara and Baghdad flared up after the Turkish parliament extended a government mandate by one year, allowing its troops to remain on both Iraqi and Syrian soil.

The Iraqi parliament has labelled the Turkish troops an "occupying force." 

The Turkish-Iraqi tensions risk complicating plans for an operation to save Mosul, which was captured by Islamic State militants in 2014.

The Turkish president has expressed his country's willingness to join the battle under a similar understanding it had reached for the recapture of Jarabulus in Syria.

Turkey's army has launched an ambitious operation in Syria, backing up opposition fighters who recaptured the town of Jarabulus near the Turkish border from IS militants in September.

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