The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) announced on 25 September that Iraqi forces had arrived in the country for a third phase of an exercise that would begin in the Silopi-Habur area near the Iraqi border on the following day.
The TSK released photographs of around 30 Iraqi soldiers arriving on an Iraqi Air Force C-130 transport aircraft. The soldiers wore the black fatigues associated with the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) units that operate under the Counter-Terrorism Service rather than the Ministry of Defence.
More photographs were released on the following day showing the Iraqis training with Turkish units equipped with M60T tanks and ACV armoured personnel carriers. The TSK identified the 28th Mechanised Infantry Brigade as being involved in the earlier phases of the exercise in the area.
The exercise was carried out as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq held a non-binding referendum on whether the autonomous region should be independent: a move opposed by Ankara and the federal government in Baghdad.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on 25 September that Turkey could respond to the referendum by shutting off the pipeline that carries oil from northern Iraq to the Mediterranean.
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