India taps Gulf States to free 85 nationals in Iraq

The Indian government has intensified its global outreach in an effort to secure the lives of 85 Indian which are in  captivity in Iraq. External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has called up foreign ministers of Arab countries, including the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, seeking their assistance in ensuring the safety and possible release of the captives.

The minister is understood to have spoke to Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Bahrain’s Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi, Qatar Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah and UAE’s Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The 46 Indian nurses who were holed up in the Tikrit Teaching Hospital have been moved out by the Sunni Jihadist group, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to a new location on July 3. It has been reported that the nurses have been moved to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The 39 Indian workers who have been held captive since June by the ISIS are also reported to be there; Mosul is considered a stronghold of the militant group.

While Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry had confirmed reports that the nurses were being moved at a press briefing on July 3, he treaded cautiously and did not name the group, who were moving them. Asked whether the nurses had moved on their own or are in captivity he replied, “In zones of conflicts there is no free-will”.  He added that the situation was one of “grave difficulty” and said “lives are at stake”.


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