Turkish PM backtracks on Mosul airstrike remarks

Turkey's prime minister had said the country's air force was involved in airstrikes alongside the U.S.-backed coalition as part of the operation underway to free Mosul from the Islamic State group.

New Delhi | Published:October 18, 2016 6:20 pm

Mosul, Iraq, Mosul iraq, Iraq Mosul, Mosul Islamic State, Islamic State Mosul, Mosul fighting, Mosul: Kurdish security forces take up a position as they fight overlooking the Islamic State-controlled in villages surrounding Mosul, in Khazer, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition air and ground support, launched coordinated military operations early on Monday as the long-awaited fight to wrest the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State fighters got underway.(AP Photo)

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim has backtracked from his comments earlier in the day stating that the Turkish air force had taken part in airstrikes during the operation underway to free Mosul from the Islamic State group. Asked for clarification about it, Binali Yildirim told reporters later Tuesday that there is an agreement “in principle” for the Turkish air force to be part of the US-led coalition. The remarks were reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Anadolu quoted Yildirim as saying the planes would join the aerial operations “when necessary.” When asked if Turkish planes had already joined coalition operations, Yildirim said: “I don’t know the details of the operation but what is important is for them to be part of the coalition.”

Turkey’s prime minister had said the country’s air force was involved in airstrikes alongside the U.S.-backed coalition as part of the operation underway to free Mosul from the Islamic State group.

Meanwhile, a U.N. official says the world body expects people to start fleeing the northern Iraqi city of Mosul “basically any minute now.” Spokesman Jens Laerke of U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator OCHA told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva that “we haven’t seen any big rush out yet” from Iraq’s second-largest city.

Iraq’s government on Monday launched an operation to recapture the city from the radical Islamic State group. Several U.N. agencies have been stepping up preparations for an expected exodus from Mosul.

U.N. officials variously expressed concerns that IS could use chemical weapons or use civilians as human shields to try to fend off a government advance. Refugee agency UNHCR also expressed concerns that it might not have enough land to set up tent camps for evacuees.