Iraq seeks Turkish support in fight against IS

December 25, 2014

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) ā€” Iraq and Turkey on Thursday discussed cooperation in countering the threat posed by the Islamic State group, including an Iraqi request for intelligence sharing and the possible delivery of Turkish arms to Iraqi forces, Iraq’s prime minister said.

Haider al-Abadi told reporters during a visit to the Turkish capital that he had provided “lists” of things Iraq was requesting from Turkey that included military cooperation, training and delivering weapons to fighters.

“(Islamic State group) is not only a threat to Iraq and Turkey, but is it a threat to the whole region. Therefore, there is a need for cooperation. That’s what we expect of Turkey,” al-Abadi said. “Whether it is military, intelligence sharing, training or even arms ā€” these were talked about,” al-Abadi said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey was ready to provide Iraq the assistance it needed but didn’t elaborate. He said the countries’ defense ministries were holding discussions. “On the issue of support, we are ready to provide training… We have provided support to the Peshmerga forces that are battling Daesh in northern Iraq,” Davutoglu said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “We are open to all kinds of opinions concerning the support to be provided.”

Turkey has declared it is willing to train and equip forces fighting IS and has also allowed about 150 Peshmerga fighters to cross into Syria from its territory, but has been reluctant to provide greater support to the U.S.-led coalition. Turkey insists that the coalition must also aim to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom it regards as the source of the crisis in Syria.

Al-Abadi said the campaign against IS had been successful in weakening the group and driving it out of some regions but said the militants continued to pose a threat. Turkey has been accused of facilitating the transit of militants through its territory into Syria ā€” a charge the country strongly denies.

Davutoglu said Turkey opposes the presence of all foreign fighters both in Syria and in Iraq.

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