Turkey's Mosul consulate staff members still captive in second month
This file photo taken on Oct. 31, 2009, shows Turkey's consulate in Mosul.Some 49 Turkish consulate staff members in Iraq are still being held hostage, with one month passing since they were kidnapped by militants.
Turkish officials dismiss claims of any negotiations being made with the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) over the fate of consulate staff members, consolidating the argument its citizens are being kept as “human shield.” Forty-nine Turkish staff members, including Turkey’s consul general, Öztürk Yılmaz, were kidnapped in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 11. Turkish diplomats said the militants include local elements and foreign jihadists.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently said the government is continuing to work for the release of the kidnapped citizens, but has asked for the public not to speculate about the incident lest it place the abductees in harm’s way. The Foreign Ministry and the national intelligence are leading efforts for their release, but the media cannot freely report on the work because of a media blackout on the issue.
Meanwhile, a statement released yesterday by the Turkish Foreign Ministry warned Turkish citizens to leave the provinces of Mosul, Kirkuk, Salahaddin, Diyala, Anbar and Baghdad within the shortest possible time and avoid travelling to these regions. Turkey’s travel warning expanded to the wider area of Iraq, adding eight more in the south of Baghdad that includes Babil, Najaf, Karbala, Wasit, Maysan, al-Qadisiyyah, al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar.