Iraqi forces holding off ISIL from Baghdad: Iraqi FM

Photo: Iraqi forces holding off ISIL from Baghdad: Iraqi FM / Arab World

The Iraqi forces have prevented the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from getting close to Baghdad, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari Anadolu Agency reported

Zebari's comments on Thursday came after ISIL militants vowed earlier in the day to move on to the Iraq capital and cities in the south after taking Mosul and Tikrit among other areas.

The minister, who was attending the End Sexual Violence in Conflict summit in London, told Anadolu Agency: "The situation has changed positively, since yesterday.

"The Iraqi forces have managed to stop them and push them back north of Baghdad."

Zebari also expressed his concerns for the 49 Turkish consulate staff and their families abducted by ISIL forces on Wednesday: "We are very, very concerned about the Turkish council general and members of the consulate and the security people who have been taken by the ISIL."

- 'Utmost priority'

He said: "We are doing everything in our power from Baghdad, from Erbil, to ensure their safe release and return.

"This is a matter of utmost priority for myself, personally, and for the government."

Zebari said that Iraq had asked the international community for humanitarian aid for those that have been displaced by the violence and said that the situation could be "normalized", but added that Iraq had not asked for outside military intervention.

He acknowledged that there would have to be some changes in the government and its policies because of the current crisis.

The Shia government of Nouri Maliki has been accused of being sectarian and marginalizing Sunnis in the country.

- 'A big shock'

Zebari said that the ISIL could be defeated, adding: "There has to be a genuine reconciliation - a true inclusiveness.

"For everyone to feel that they have their rights, their constitutional rights, that there is no discrimination, that there is no marginalization, and to abide by the same constitution to have loyalty to their nation, to their country, to their military."

"There has to be changes, this was a big shock," he said.

Zebari also acknowledged that the Iraqi military did not fight in places like Mosul and Kirkuk, admitting they had "abandoned everything".

The foreign minister said that the neighboring conflict in Syria was to blame for what was happening in Iraq.

- No UK intervention

He said: "In the last three years, we've been arguing that the Syrian conflict cannot be contained within the Syrian border. There has to be some sort of political solution or settlement. It cannot be resolved by arming or taking sides.

"The spill over will reach Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and we are now fighting that war in Iraq."

Although Zebari had stated that Iraq had not asked for military help, he said that the UK and US had a "political and moral" responsibility to the country.

Earlier, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK would not intervene militarily in the conflict.

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