Ankara on alert over jihadist advance in northern Iraq

Ankara on alert over jihadist advance in northern Iraq

Ankara on alert over jihadist advance in northern Iraq

Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, Aug. 5. REUTERS Photo

Growing concern over the state of security in northern Iraq that has affected hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the face of the advance of extremist jihadist groups has put Turkey on alert, as well brought concerns that the unrest could be spread to its territory.

An unscheduled security meeting was held in Ankara on Aug. 7 under the leadership of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and with the participation of Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar, Gendarmerie Forces Commander Gen. Servet Yörük and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan.

The meeting came following the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters marching toward northern Iraq and seizing control of some towns traditionally inhabited by Turkmens, Kurds and Yazidi (or Ezidi) groups.

Davutoğlu had said Turkey was taking all measures to secure its borders, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraqi Turkmens and Yazidi groups that had to flee their homes following the ISIL attacks.

For his part, Culture Minister Ömer Çelik has announced that Yazidis who have fled to Turkey were settled in homes in the southeastern Şırnak province.

Yazidis, who believe in an ancient religion linked with Zoroastrianism, have suffered years of oppression and are considered as “heretics” by radical Islamists.