Iraqi Kurds offer Turkey intel on Mosul hostages

Iraqi Kurds offer Turkey intel on Mosul hostages

Iraqi Kurds offer Turkey intel on Mosul hostages

This image taken with a mobile phone through a car windshield shows a fighter with the Islamic State group taking control of a traffic intersection in central Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The panic that initially gripped Iraq after Sunni militants led by the Islamic State extremist group seized the country's second-largest city, Mosul, and swept across northern and western Iraq has largely subsided. (AP Photo)

Iraqi Kurds have offered Turkey cooperation on the ongoing hostage crisis, particularly sharing intelligence information regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official has said. 

In relation to efforts for the release of Turkish Mosul Consulate staff members held by ISIL militants since last month, both Turkey and Iraqi Kurds have agreed to “cooperate, especially on intelligence sharing,” the official said.

The statement came after Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani and a delegation including the KRG’s security, interior, energy and finance ministers held talks in Ankara on July 14.

Turkey welcomed the offer, saying Ankara will contact them “whenever needed,” the official said, adding that the parties had not discussed any specific cooperation topics at this stage.

ISIL kidnapped 49 people from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul on June 11, including 46 Turkish nationals. The Turkish hostages in Mosul were moved another place in the city some three weeks ago, but are still being kept together without being separated, according to Turkish diplomats. Officials have not dismissed the possibility of ISIL holding Turkish nationals as a “human shield,” as the group has not presented any specific demands for their release.

Turkey pledges help for financial problems of Iraqi Kurds 

In talks with the Iraqi Kurdish officials, Turkey reiterated that Ankara would support the KRG’s “fight against terrorism” and stressed the security of Turkmens in northern Iraq over threats by jihadi militants in the crisis-hit country.

“In talks with Barzani, we welcomed the KRG’s support to Turkmens and expressed our expectation for help to maintain their security,” the official added.

Iraqi Kurdish officials also discussed financial problems, as their ties with the central government have hit new lows with the apparent underpayment of salaries.

“We expressed readiness to make all sorts of support [the KRG] to overcome financial problems in northern Iraq,” the official said. 

Asked about media reports that Turkey is providing fiscal assistance to the autonomous region, the official did not elaborate, but addressed existing cooperation with the KRG on energy and an agreement for the sale of northern Iraqi oil to world markets. In talks with Barzani, Turkey also underlined “importance of preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq,” the official stressed. 

In an interview earlier this month, Barzani said Iraq’s Kurds would hold an independence referendum “within months,” adding that the time was right for a vote as Iraq was already effectively divided by the ISIL actions in Iraq.