MIDEAST >Turkey in intense diplomacy over al-Qaeda threat in Iraq

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

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Iraqi army deployed tanks and artillery around Fallujah as dozens were killed in the clashes.

Iraqi army deployed tanks and artillery around Fallujah as dozens were killed in the clashes.

Turkey is holding talks with Iraq and Iran over the mounting threat from al-Qaeda-linked groups, particularly in the Anbar region of Iraq, warning all related parties to “avoid sectarian clashes” and urging “restraint.” 

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu initiated separate phone conversations with Iraqi Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Jan. 6. Diplomatic sources said the main theme of the conversations was the recent clashes in Anbar. Iraqi security forces and allies from Sunni tribes have been battling al-Qaeda-linked militants to recapture Fallujah and Ramadi, the two key cities in the western Anbar province. Al-Nujaifi is reportedly worried that the operations could turn into a wider oppression of all Sunni citizens in Iraq.

Turkey will give messages to all relevant parties - including Sunni groups in Iraq, the United States, Iraqi Kurds and Iran - that they should avoid violence and sectarian clashes, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News, underlining that parties should abstain from “harming democracy” in the lead up to the upcoming Iraq elections.

“We urge all parties to continue dialogue,” they said.

The Iraqi army deployed tanks and artillery around Fallujah yesterday, security officials stated, as local leaders in the besieged city urged al-Qaeda-linked militants to leave in order to avert an impending military assault. 

Security officials and tribal leaders have said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to hold off an offensive in order to give people in Fallujah enough time to push the militants out. 

The United States said on Jan. 6 that it would speed up deliveries of military hardware to Iraq, including drones and missiles, but it has ruled out sending back troops.

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu also held phone conversations with the foreign ministers of Jordan and Qatar for discussions on the upcoming Geneva II Conference and the humanitarian situation for Syrians.


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