Turkish troops
Turkish troops near the Syrian borderReuters file photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned the presence of uninvited Turkish troops in his country could trigger a fresh regional conflict in the region. As the row between the two neighbours escalates, both summoned each others' ambassadors on Wednesday, October 5, to express their displeasure.

While Iraqi forces do not want to engage with their Turkish counterparts in a military confrontation, Ankara's presence on Iraqi soil is unacceptable, Abadi said. His comments coincide with the Iraqi parliament rejecting the motion to allow Turkish troops in the country on Tuesday and labelling Ankara an "occupying" force. A mandate from the Turkish parliament, ratified by Iraqi lawmakers, has been in place since 2007, which allowed Turkish troops to take military action against terror groups in Syria and Iraq. Iraqi parliamentarians have now decided against extending this mandate.

"The presence of foreign troops in Iraq to control the situation is not permitted and unacceptable. We asked the Turkish side, more than once, not to interfere in the Iraqi affairs," a statement from Abadi read. Ties between Iraq and Turkey have been deteriorating in recent years over the years-long Syrian conflict compounded by the rise of the Islamic State (Isis).

"The presence of Turkish troops in the country is considered a threat to Iraq's sovereignty, and the international coalition is also condemning the presence of those troops in Iraq. The presence of Turkish troops in Iraq is not justified, because ISIS is closer to the Turkish border in Syria than from Mosul," the statement added.

Hitting back at the Iraqi parliament's decision, Ankara said the move does not reflect the Iraqi people's opinion. Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: "We think such decisions are temporary and arising from internal politics," urging Baghdad to "take the friendly hand that Turkey offers".