Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus on Thursday warned against allowing other groups to become established in the Iraqi city of Mosul after it is freed from ISIS.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus singled out the PKK/PYD terror group operating in Turkey and northern Syria and Iraqi Shia Muslim militias as potential threats to the stability of the city and the well-being of its residents.
“Turkey is aware of that Mosul is the key city for stabilizing the Middle East,” he told journalists during an official visit to Antalya, southern Turkey.
He added: “Changing the current structure of Mosul does not contribute to peace in the region. Protecting Mosul’s status is the priority of Turkey. Mosul belongs to the people of Mosul.
“For instance, after we get rid of ISIS, if the PYD and al-Hashdi al-Shabi [Shia militia] or some other groups settle down in the city, this will not contribute to the future of Iraq and regional peace.”
Ankara has repeatedly warned about the risk of sectarian conflict if Shia militias are allowed to enter Sunni-majority Mosul. In other parts of Iraq liberated from ISIS, such as Fallujah and Ramadi, there have been allegations of Shia fighters mistreating Sunni civilians.
The PKK/PYD is also considered a threat by Turkey. The PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD are both listed as terrorist groups by Turkey.
Kurtulmus also warned against any group that will target Turkish soldiers based at Bashiqa, 12 kilometers (7 miles) northeast of Mosul.
The operation to retake Mosul, which is led by the Kurdish Peshmerga, Sunnimilitias and the army, was launched Monday. ISIS took the city in June 2014 and soon after proclaimed a caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria.