Government should not tolerate infringement of sovereignty - Shiite cleric

  11 December 2015    Read: 526
Government should not tolerate infringement of sovereignty - Shiite cleric
Iraq`s top Shi`ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on the government on Friday to show "no tolerance" of any infringement of the country`s sovereignty, after Turkey deployed heavily armed troops to northern Iraq.
Sistani`s spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Karbala`i, did not explicitly name Turkey, but a row over the deployment has badly soured relations between Ankara and Baghdad, which denies having agreed to it.

Sistani also said Iraq`s neighbours should not send any troops to Iraq "under the pretext of fighting terrorism", except with the approval of the Baghdad government.

"The Iraqi government is responsible for protecting Iraq`s sovereignty and must not tolerate and side that infringes upon on it, whatever the justifications and necessities," Karbalai`i said in a weekly sermon.

Ankara says the troops were sent as part of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State. Turkey`s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday a withdrawal was "out of the question for the moment".

Sistani urged citizens to show restraint towards foreign residents of Iraq, after Shi`ite paramilitary groups threatened to use force against Turkey and target its interests to force it to pull out.

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