Turkey withdraws some troops from Iraq
After being heavily criticized by the Iraqi government for the unauthorized positioning of troops in Mosul, Turkey announced that it has withdrawn some troops from the region. Turkish military officials stated that a 10-12 vehicle convoy had left Bashiqa camp and was moving north. Sources have withheld information on whether the troops will remain in Iraq or be brought back to Turkey.
The war on Iraq
In March 2003, US troops invaded Iraq and ousted President Saddam Hussein who was accused of building and using weapons of mass destruction. The process of rebuilding Iraq began and a transitional government was elected that represented all ethnicities. However, differences over representation, rights and territory between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds continued and the government failed to contain these sectarian clashes.
Iraq's ethnic breakup
Iraq has three major ethnicities: Shia Arab Muslims (60-65%), Sunni Arab Muslims (20-25%) and the Kurdish Muslims (15-20%). There are Sunni Kurds (40%) as well as Shia Kurds (60%) in Iraq.
US pulls out of Iraq
US forces remained in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's ouster to ensure that peace and security was maintained under the new government. However, clashes continued between rival militia groups vying for territory. Facing domestic pressure, the US began partial troop withdrawals in 2008, exacerbating security issues in the region. By December 2011, the US announced a complete withdrawal of forces from Iraq.
Sectarian tensions intensify in Iraq
A series of bomb attacks on Shia targets took place in 2012 sparking fear of renewed sectarian clashes. Sunni led anti-government protests began to take shape and the government responded with brutal crackdowns that killed dozens. By July 2013, Iraq was embroiled in a full scale sectarian conflict once again. By 2014, ISIS fighters invaded Ramadi and Fallujah making their first inroads into Iraq.
Inclusive government and new war strategy
In September 2014, a new government consisting of Arabs and Kurds was elected under PM Haider al-Abadi. The US announced a new strategy to combat ISIS and began air strikes in Iraq. Several Arab nations including Turkey deployed forces to train Iraqi troops in battle against ISIS. However, the foreign ground forces were to operate under the direction of the Iraqi government.
Iraq demands Turkish withdrawal from Mosul
The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, gave Turkish forces 48 hours to withdraw their forces from Mosul. He stated that the troops had been stationed without the consent of the government and that it is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty. Turkish officials agreed to withdraw and stated that the troops were merely training the Kurdish Peshmerga forces who are fighting ISIS in Northern Iraq.