Turkey is ‘On Alert’ After Al Qaeda Affiliate Seizes Turkish Hostages in Iraq

"All institutions of Turkey are on alert"The state of Turkey was “on alert” late June 11 after 80 Turkish citizens, including Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz, have been taken hostage by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as Turkish authorities talked to their U.S. counterparts on phone and briefed their NATO allies at an emergency meeting.

“All institutions of Turkey are on alert,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has told the members of the Parliament, stressing that Ankara “takes all necessary initiatives in international organizations.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone conversation with U.S. Vice President John Biden over the crisis.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also held a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government officials for release of Turkish citizens.

Meanwhile, Turkey has called for an emergency meeting of NATO and Turkish Ambassador Fatih Ceylan informed member states of the alliance regarding the situation in Mosul.

Turkey did not invoke NATO’s article 4 of the alliance’s charter, which allows any ally to call for consultations if the security of any of the member countries is threatened. The June 11 meeting was merely on information purpose, a Turkish diplomat told Hürriyet Daily News. . . .

AP reported that the ISIL seized effective control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit on June 11, expanding their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes with the insurgents.

Fighters from the ISIL took control a day earlier of much of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, in a major blow to the authority of the country’s Shiite government and a sign of Iraq’s reversals since U.S. forces withdrew in late 2011.

An estimated half a million residents fled the economically important city. . . .

Two Iraqi security officials confirmed that Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin province, was under the control of the ISIL, and said the provincial governor was missing. Tikrit is 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad. . . .

The stunning assault in Mosul by the al-Qaeda-inspired group saw black banner-waving insurgents raid government buildings, push out security forces and capture military vehicles as residents fled for their lives.

Mosul is the capital of Ninevah province. It and the neighboring Sunni-dominated province of Anbar share a long and porous border with Syria, where the Islamic State is also active.

Image: "All institutions of Turkey are on alert" (photo: KLMircea)