BAGHDAD/ANKARA — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declined on Saturday an offer from Turkey to take part in the battle to drive ISIS militants from Mosul, a decision that could rile Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Mosul was once part of the Ottoman empire and Turkey sees the city as firmly within its sphere of influence. Ankara is in a dispute with Iraq's central government over the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul.
"I know that the Turks want to participate, we tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle," Abadi told reporters after meeting US Defence Secretary Ash Carter in Baghdad on Saturday.
"If help is needed, we will ask for it from Turkey or from other regional countries," he said.
During a visit to Turkey on Friday, Carter signalled conditional support for a possible Turkish role in the campaign and said there was an agreement in principle that could allow for eventual Turkish participation.
The details, however, were still subject to negotiation, Carter and other officials acknowledged at the time, and Iraq would need to agree.
By the tone of Abadi's comments on Saturday, that appeared unlikely anytime soon.
Abadi said that five days prior, an official delegation from Turkey had visited Baghdad and made some recommendations.
"The reality is we didn't see it as enough as it relates (to) withdrawing the Turkish troops from Iraq and respecting Iraqi sovereignty," he told reporters. "The Turkish side assured the respect for Iraqi sovereignty and we want to hear from the Turkish side, in the military, in the public, more remarks in terms of respecting Iraqi sovereignty."
Erdogan has warned of sectarian bloodshed if the Iraqi army relies on Shi'ite militia fighters to retake the largely Sunni Muslim city of Mosul.