Efforts continue to free kidnapped Turks

Efforts continue to free kidnapped Turks

Efforts continue to free kidnapped Turks

Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants who have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces, travel in army trucks in Baghdad on June 14. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Turkey said on June 14 that works to release 80 Turkish citizens kidnapped by jihadists in the Iraqi city of Mosul were being "carried out with great care," as efforts were intensified for the evacuation of Turkish citizens in different parts of Iraq.

The statement was issued by the Iraq Crisis Desk, which was established by the Foreign Ministry on June 13. The crisis desk is expected to issue two statements every day to inform the public about developments in Iraq, with emphasis on the kidnapped Turkish citizens.

After the crisis desk issued the statement, President Abdullah Gül convened a meeting with the participation of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan, Deputy Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güner, and other senior officials, to discuss efforts for the release of 80 abducted Turkish citizens.

The Turkish Consul General in Mosul, Öztürk Yıldırım, was abducted along with another 48 people by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants on June 12, one day after 31 Turkish truck drivers were kidnapped by the same group.

According to the International Migration Organization, around 500,000 people have fled Mosul since the clashes commenced on June 6, the crisis desk said, adding that scarcity of water, food and electricity were making life conditions in the country’s second-largest city very difficult.

Clashes continued in the provinces of Kirkuk, Selahaddin, Diyala and Anbar, and 7,000-10,000 Turkish citizens are believed to be in Iraq’s 15 provinces outside of the northern Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) region, where there are 110,000 Turks.

Recalling that a security and travel warning to Iraq has been issued, the crisis desk statement added that Turkish Airlines had introduced additional flights to Baghdad, Basra, Najaf, Suleimaniye and Arbil with lower fares in order to ease conditions for those who want to leave Iraq.