Turkey evacuates its consulate in Basra in southern Iraq over security concerns

Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Basra. AP Photo

Turkey’s consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra has been evacuated due to security concerns, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced June 17. The 18 consulate staff members, including the consul general were were taken to Kuwait, Davutoğlu wrote via his Twitter account.

“The Iraq Crisis Center and the Baghdad Embassy are on duty 24 hours a day for the evacuation of our citizens in risky regions in Iraq,” he wrote.

“Turkey is ready to give every support to our Iraqi brothers in every platform to return to the normal order,” he added.

Some 49 members of Turkey's Mosul Consulate and 31 truck drivers were kidnapped by the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) after they seized Mosul late June 9. One of the Turkish drivers had managed to escape over the week-end.

The crisis desk set up by the Foreign Ministry had announced that contingency plans for the evacuation of the Embassy in Baghdad have been drafted. But Davutoğlu said the Embassy will continue to be operational to ensure the safe evacuation of Turkish citizens from Iraq.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said earlier June 17 that "intense efforts" were being made to secure the release of the abducted citizens, while accusing the Iraqi government of failing to protect the mission in Mosul.

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