By Diyar Guldogan
Turkey will not allow terrorist organizations to enter Mosul, Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.
"We will not allow Mosul to be given to either Daesh or other terrorist organizations," Erdogan told a ceremony in the Black Sea province of Rize.
Erdogan criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government, asking "where was the Iraqi government" when Daesh entered Mosul.
"We are ready with the coalition forces for combat there against Daesh and other terrorist organizations," Erdogan said.
About Turkey’s training base in Bashiqa, which Baghdad has said it wants closed, Erdogan said: "Nobody should speak about our base in Bashiqa. This base will stay there. Because Bashiqa also acts as insurance against terror attacks targeting Turkey."
Last December, Turkey sent 150 troops and about two dozen combat tanks to Bashiqa, located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) northeast of Mosul.
Turkey and Iraq have engaged in a war of words about the presence of Turkish troops there.
Erdogan said in its current Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey entered Jarabulus, in the Syrian province of Aleppo along Turkey’s border, and then the town of Al-Rai. "Now where are we heading? To Dabiq [in northern Syria], and there we will declare a 5,000-square kilometer area a safe zone cleared of terror," he added.
The president said Turkey has no territorial designs, adding: "But there are 3 million refugees in our country. Let us prepare a place for them, let them return to their soil, make them live safe there; this is the step we will take."
Erdogan said the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which the government says was behind the July 15 defeated coup, is a terrorist organization like the PKK and Daesh.
The president called on FETO’s head, U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, to return to Turkey, saying: "If you have an ounce of bravery, return to your country. Come, do not take shelter in the U.S. Come and face trial here."
Erdogan added that if the coup-plotters had been successful the night of the attempted coup, "Turkey would have faced the most serious occupation attempt in its history."
He called the defeated coup an "all-out attack" on Turkey's unity and integrity.