Binali Yildirim Turkish air force jets joined in Mosul operation - PM

He warned that anyone taking steps in the region without taking Turkey into account would be making "big mistakes".

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Smoke billows as Iraqi forces deploy in the area of al-Shurah, south of Mosul on October 17, 2016 play

Smoke billows as Iraqi forces deploy in the area of al-Shurah, south of Mosul on October 17, 2016

(AFP/File)
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Turkish air force jets joined in the air operation backing Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga to retake Iraq's second city of Mosul from jihadists, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tuesday.

"Our air forces took part in the coalition forces' air operations in Mosul," Yildirim told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group in Ankara.

The long-awaited offensive began Monday with air and ground support from a US-led coalition. Yildirim said Turkey was "closely-watching" what was happening but did not give details on the nature of the Turkish air support.

Mosul was captured by Islamic State (IS) jihadists in in June 2014. But ahead of the offensive, Turkey and Iraq were entangled in a war of words over Turkey's presence in northern Iraq.

Yildirim repeated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments from Monday that Turkey would be involved in the operation and will be "at the table".

He warned that anyone taking steps in the region without taking Turkey into account would be making "big mistakes".

While insisting it cannot be left out of the operation, Turkey has often spoken of its fears over the potential involvement of Shiite militias and anti-Ankara Kurdish militia in the fight for mainly Sunni Mosul.

Pressed by reporters after his speech if Turkey had indeed taken part in air strikes, Yildirim said he did not know "the operational details" but said there was agreement "in principle" to be part of the coalition.

'Don't act tough with us'

In a separate speech in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey did not want to be party to any sectarian conflict in Iraq, but spoke of his concern for "our Sunni Arab brothers, our Turkmen brothers".

Earlier this month, Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi traded barbs over Turkey's presence in Bashiqa in northern Iraq, where, according to Erdogan, nearly 700 Turkish soldiers are based.

Erdogan insisted Turkey had a historical responsibility to be in Iraq, referring to Mosul's past as part of the Ottoman Empire.

"We will be (present) on the ground and we will be at the table," Erdogan said.

Erdogan told the Iraqi government that "rather than acting tough with us" it should "deal" with other extremist groups like IS.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said an Iraqi delegation was due to arrive in Turkey towards the end of the week, as diplomats try to de-escalate the tensions.

"Both sides essentially have the will to solve this through dialogue," Cavusoglu said Tuesday during a visit to Tashkent, quoted by the Anadolu news agency. He added the delegation would come "maybe Thursday".

It comes after a top-level Turkish delegation led by foreign ministry undersecretary Umit Yalcin went to Baghdad Monday.

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