World Bulletin / News Desk
The Kurdish Regional Government is ready to assist the Turkish government in connection with the abduction of 49 of its nationals by ISIL militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the KRG's Prime Minister has said.
Nechirvan Barzani made the offer on Saturday during a press conference with the UN Special Representative in Iraq, Nikolai Miladinov, in which he condemned the kidnapping of the Turkish consulate staff and their relatives, and that of 31 Turkish truck drivers who were also seized last week as they delivered fuel to a power plant.
“We wanted to collaborate with the Baghdad government against the militants of the ISIL before Mosul was seized, but the Baghdad government did not give an answer to our offer of assistance,” he said.
Barzani also stressed that the Baghdad government must take responsibility for taking back control of Iraq's second-largest city, and that military operations should be considered if a political solution could not be found.
He added: "The KRG always regards itself as a part of Iraq."
“According to the constitution, the Iraqi KRG’S Peshmerga army has to protect the security of the Kurdish people, and we sent our troops to Kirkuk and other districts because of the security risk there.”
Turkish companies were safe in the Kurdish region and could continue their business securely given the KRG's assurance, Barzani said.
'No ransom demand'
No ransom demand has been received from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants holding 31 Turkish truck drivers they seized in Iraq last week, Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru has said.
Koru's comments came amid reports that a ransom had been demanded for the drivers who were taken hostage on Tuesday while they were transporting fuel to a thermal power plant in Mosul's Gyarah region.
"Neither we, nor the companies, have received such demands," Koru said, also dismissing claims that ISIL militants had taken the hostages to Syria.
Regarding the 49 Turkish consulate staff and family members who were abducted on Wednesday in Mosul by the ISIL, Koru said that they were all in one place and in good health, citing intelligence sources.
Koru said that 31 of the consulate staff were special operations officers, and there were no reports of ill-treatment towards any of the family members.
Koru also dismissed further claims that the consulate staff were not evacuated due to an "assurance" given by local people or organizations as to their welfare.
Noting that all consulate staff in Mosul were driven in armored vehicles and escorted by local military forces for outside errands, Koru said that the staff could not be evacuated because the local administration - without prior notice - removed from duty all Iraqi police and soldiers in charge of securing the Turkish consulate.
The consulate group was abducted on Wednesday, a day after the militants also took control of Mosul and seized the Turkish truck drivers.
113 Turks return home
More than 100 Turkish nationals working for Turkish companies in Iraq have returned home after Ankara warned about the deteriorating security situation amid advances by ISIL militants.
A total of 113 employees were brought to Turkey from Iraq's southern province of Najaf in a plane leased by their company, said Turkey’s Foreign Ministry in a statement published on its website on Saturday.
The ministry reiterated its earlier warning against travelling in Iraq and its provinces, saying the worsening security situation remained unpredictable.
Referring to the Turkish nationals abducted by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants in Mosul last week, the ministry said: “All rescue work is being undertaken with the necessary precision to bring back the abducted Turkish consulate staff and truck drivers to Turkey unharmed, soon.”
Unrest in Iraq is running high as ISIL militants have seized two new towns after taking control of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and are threatening to move south towards the capital, Baghdad.Last Mod: 15 Haziran 2014, 09:35