News ID: 191217
Published: 0842 GMT April 20, 2017

Iraq to summon Turkish envoy over Erdogan's remarks

Iraq to summon Turkish envoy over Erdogan's remarks

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry says it will summon the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad in protest at recent remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, branding Iraq's volunteer forces as terrorists.

In a statement released on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Gamal said the Turkish envoy would be handed a formal protest note.

In an interview with the Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster on Wednesday, Erdogan labeled that the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – as a terrorist outfit.

"In the fight against Daesh in Iraq there is something striking. It's interesting, the Iraqi parliament says the Hashd al-Sha’abi is not a terror group but what is interesting is who is behind this terror group," Erdogan said.

Earlier on Thursday, PMU spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi said Erdogan’s claims represented a “flagrant intervention” in Iraq’s affairs and “a violation against an Iraqi security institution” that is “recognized by the parliament and the state.”

Hashd al-Sha’abi was formed after the rise of Daesh in Iraq in 2014. In the early days of Daesh's terror campaign, the volunteer fighters played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi army, which had suffered heavy setbacks in the face of lightening advances of the Takfiri militants.

Currently, they are actively cooperating with the Iraqi military and allied groups in a large-scale operation to fully liberate the northern city of Mosul, the last remaining Daesh foothold in the Arab country.

On November 26, 2016, the Iraqi parliament recognized Hashd al-Sha’abi as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army.

Earlier this month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the Hashd al-Sha'abi forces were "defending Iraq’s dignity and unity" and that it was "everyone’s duty" to support them.

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