Iraq and Turkey are threatening to go to war with each other over who should hold power in Mosul and the surrounding region after the defeat of Isis. Turkish tanks and artillery have deployed along the border and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that while Iraq “did not want war with Turkey” it is ready to fight one if necessary.
The confrontation is sharpening as the Iraqi Army enters eastern Mosul and Shia militia known as the Hashd al-Shaabi advance towards the town of Tal Afar, threatening to cut Isis’s last escape route from Mosul to Syria. Turkey sees itself as the protector of the Sunni Arabs of Mosul and northern Iraq, a community left vulnerable by the likely defeat of Isis by Shia and Kurdish forces backed by US-led airpower.
The dependence of the anti-Isis forces on air strikes and drones was underlined on Wednesday when Iraqi Special Forces delayed their advance into east Mosul because high humidity and clouds made it difficult for aircraft to identify and attack targets on the ground. They had entered the industrial suburb of Gogjali on Tuesday and were Wednesday going from house to house looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and booby traps.
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