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Turkey urges citizens to leave Iraq: Foreign Ministry

Warning comes after a 48 hour Iraqi deadline for Turkey to remove deployed troops in Mosul has passed without action
Ankara deployed up to 300 soldiers backed by 20 tanks in Mosul earlier this week (AFP)

Turkey on Wednesday called on its citizens to leave all areas of Iraq excluding Iraqi Kurdistan due to increased security risks, the foreign ministry said.

"The scope of our travel warning to Iraq has expanded to include all provinces except for Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah," all of which are in the northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

The foreign ministry warned against non-essential travel to several provinces in Iraq including Basra, Najaf, Anbar and Kirkuk and said: "We strongly advise those whose stay is not essential to leave those provinces as soon as possible."

Ankara cited increasing threats targeting Turkish companies recently, as well as declarations encouraging violence, abduction and attacks.  

The foreign ministry also called on citizens living in the Iraqi Kurdish region to stay away from areas where operations are taking place against the Islamic State group and to obey warnings and guidance from the Iraqi Kurdish administration.

Tensions between Iraq and Turkey have built up in recent days after Ankara deployed a contingent of between 150 and 300 soldiers, backed by 20 tanks in Mosul.

On Sunday, Baghdad gave Ankara 48 hours to remove its forces, but a senior Turkish official said this week that his government was unlikely to comply. 

"It will depend on discussions," the Turkish official said. 

According to Ankara, the contingent's arrival in northern Iraq was "a normal rotation" and not an illegal incursion or the advance party for an invasion.

On Tuesday, Russia denounced the deployment of Turkish troops to Iraq, but the United Nations Security Council did not take a stand on the dispute. 

At the time, Iraqi ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said that Baghdad and Ankara "are working on this bilaterally" and that the talks were "going very well".