ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish official says a military battalion has been deployed to a position close to the Islamic State-held city of Mosul as part of a training mission.
The official said the training battalion equipped with armored vehicles is in the Bashiqa region close to Mosul. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
In a statement, the Iraqi prime minister's office condemned the Turkish move and called on Ankara to withdraw the troops from Iraqi territory.
Turkey troops have been in northern Iraq on a training mission since last year to help shore up forces fighting the Islamic State group, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Turkey has battled with Kurdish rebels at home and in Iraq for decades but has developed a close partnership with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.
According to U.S. officials, this deployment is part of an agreement between Turkey and Iraq and does not involve the U.S. or the coalition. Officials said the Turkish troops are moving across the border and arriving in Iraq.
The officials say that the mission of several hundred Turkish troops is to train and advise the Iraqi forces in the effort to battle Islamic State militants and eventually take back Mosul.
Butler reported from Washington. Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
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