ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on Monday that Turkey needs talks with EU institutions on its sensitivities in the fight against terrorism as they try to keep a landmark migration deal on track.
Erdogan’s office said in a statement that he and Merkel had also agreed, during a meeting on the sidelines of a humanitarian summit in Istanbul, on the need to continue cooperation against illegal migration.
The EU has promised visa-free travel for Turks as part of the migration deal, provided Ankara meets criteria including changes to its broad anti-terrorism laws. Erdogan has said Turkey cannot change such laws at a time when it is fighting the threat from both Islamic State and Kurdish militants.
Command and met with commanders the following morning.
Addressing the military leaders, he said the offensive achieved “more than what was planned for” and hailed the “big successes” by the troops on the ground, without elaborating on the operation. He added that the offensive had been planned to start more than two months ago, but was delayed due to the political infighting and the deteriorating security situation inside Baghdad.
The Shiite-led government has to deal with deepening political and social unrest in the capital over corruption and lack of public services. On Friday, clashes erupted between protesters and Iraqi security forces inside Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, home to key Iraqi government ministries and foreign embassies, killing two people and wounding more than 100.
The offensive comes a week after Iraqi forces pushed IS out of the western town of Rutba, located 240 miles (380 kilometers) west of Baghdad, on the edge of Anbar province. Last month, Iraqi forces cleared territory along Anbar’s Euphrates river valley after the provincial capital Ramadi was declared fully liberated earlier this year.
IS extremists still control significant areas in northern and western Iraq, including the country’s second-largest city of Mosul. The group declared an Islamic caliphate on the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria and at the height of its power was estimated to hold nearly a third of Iraqi territory. Iraq’s Prime Minister says the group’s hold has since shrunk to 14 percent of Iraq.