CNN Turkey, citing security forces officials, is reporting what appears to be yet another escalation in the middle east maelstrom:
- *TURKISH TROOPS ENTER MOSUL REGION IN IRAQ, CNN-TURK REPORTS
- *ABOUT 1,200 TURKISH TROOPS IN BASHIQA NEAR MOSUL: CNN-TURK
As Bloomberg reportrs, about 1,200 Turkish soldiers have entered the Bashiqa region near the Islamic State-held Iraqi city of Mosul, CNN-Turk reports citing Turkish security forces.
- Anti-Islamic State coalition members were informed of the move, Sabah newspaper reports
The number has now been "revised":
— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) December 4, 2015
Of course the fact that Turkey has invaded Iraq isn't the curious thing here. After all, Turkey technically invaded Iraq on September 8 and has launched ground incursions across the border on a handful of occasions over the past two decades or so. There was "Operation Sun" in 2008. And then there was "Operation Steel" in 1995. And "Operation Hammer" in 1997." And "Operation Dawn." And the aplty named "Operation Northern Iraq."
You get the idea. The question is this: what are they doing near Mosul, an ISIS stronghold?
Here are some hints from Stratfor:
Turkish troops reportedly entered Iraqi territory on Dec. 3, allegedly arriving at the Al Shikhan militia camp to help forces retake Mosul from the Islamic State, according to sources in the National Crowd for Liberating Ninevah militia and an anonymous peshmerga official, Aena News and Shafaq News reported Dec. 4. Ninevah Gov. Nawfal Humadi and Ninevah Operations Command leader Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jubouri denied the report, as did the Kurdistan Democratic Party. The anonymous peshmerga source said that the Turkish force is composed of three regiments armed with heavy weapons and that it will assist the fighters of the National Crowd for Liberating Ninevah, an umbrella group of militias, to combat the Islamic State. The Al Shikhan base camp, also known as Nargizliya Camp, is located on the border of Dahuk and Ninevah provinces and has to date trained 3,500 fighters. The report also suggested that an assault on Mosul would occur soon. Given the surprisingly sparse media reports about the supposed deployment of such a large force, Stratfor believes that this information should be taken with a note of caution. The presence of Turkish forces could be a mischaracterization of an expansion of Ankara's footprint in training the National Crowd for Liberating Ninevah rather than an actual deployment of large Turkish units for a mission to retake Mosul. If some element of this report is true, however, this would be a very notable development and a sizable increase in Turkey's commitment to the conflict in Iraq. The addition of three Turkish combat regiments could upend the balance in what has been a largely stagnant front. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Dec. 3 that he would reject any foreign ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State, calling any such incursion a violation of sovereignty that would be dealt with accordingly. Iraqi security forces have been working to isolate Islamic State-held Mosul by cutting lines of communication and directing airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.
So suddenly, just as the world is scrutinizing Turkey's role in the Islamic State oil trade, Ankara decides to send anti-ISIS troops to Iraq? Are they trying to secure the crude trade and guard the trafficking routes?
This should be interesting.