Turkey has acknowledged a "miscommunication" with Iraq over its deployment of troops to the Bashiqa military base in northern Iraq, Turkey's foreign ministry said Saturday. The ministry said Turkey would continue to move some of its troops out of Nineveh province, where the camp is based. It did not say either how many troops would be moved or to where they are headed.
Turkey deployed hundreds of troops in the Bashiqa area this month, with the stated aim of protecting its military personnel training Iraqi militia to fight against the Islamic State group. Baghdad has criticized the deployment and demanded Turkey pull them out.
Turkey's statement came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call to "de-escalate tensions" with Iraq by continuing to withdraw Turkish forces.
Some troops were withdrawn this week to another base inside Iraq's Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should withdraw completely.
"Turkey ... acknowledges the miscommunication with the government of Iraq over the deployments of Turkish protection forces," the Turkish foreign ministry said in its statement. "Turkey, in recognition of the Iraqi concerns and in accordance with the requirements of the fight against Daesh, is continuing to move military forces from Nineveh province that were the source of miscommunication," it said, using an Arabic term for the Islamic State group.
Ankara has said the deployment of the force-protection unit was due to heightened security risks near the camp, which is close to the Islamic State-held Iraqi city of Mosul. The base came under fire by the Islamic State group Wednesday, when militants fired rockets as they launched a wave of attacks against Kurdish forces. Turkish armed forces said its soldiers returned fire and that four had been lightly wounded in the incident.
Iraq has taken its criticism of the deployment to the United Nations Security Council, which met on the issue Friday. Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari asked the body to adopt a resolution demanding Turkey withdraw its troops immediately.