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Erdogan: Iraq on brink of sectarian war

June 16, 2014 at 11:28 am

The ongoing fighting in Iraq could evolve into a sectarian war, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Erdogan told journalists: “This has gone far beyond an encounter with forces affiliated with ISIS.

“Under current circumstances it can evolve into a sectarian conflict, or maybe even a sectarian war.

Referring to 80 Turkish nationals abducted by ISIS fighters on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, Erdogan said: “Our first priority is to bring our citizens to the homeland safe and sound.”

Erdogan criticised the opposition for trying to “exploit” the kidnappings in the Iraqi city of Mosul,.

He stressed that intense diplomatic efforts are being carried out to secure the release of the hostages.

Expressing his concern over the spread of fighting to the majority Turkmen town of Tal Afar in Iraq’s north, Erdogan said Ankara is closely following developments there.

“The latest development is the incidents that occurred in Tal Afar. Developments in Tal Afar cannot be underestimated. It is apparent that Turkmens are the majority in the structure of Tal Afar. You know that almost half of our Turkmen brothers are Sunni and almost half are Shiite. This is the situation. We are closely following [the events] there and we will decide what kind of steps can be taken in a meeting we will have with our friends [this] evening, as soon as we return [to Ankara],” Erdogan said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on June 22 that ISIS forces attacked the Turkish consulate in Mosul and seized 31 Turkish truck drivers and 49 people, including Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz, special forces officers, diplomats and children.