Turkey evacuates southern Iraq consulate, media blackout continues
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced the evacuation Tuesday via Twitter (Adem Altan/AFP)
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Agence France Presse reported that Turkey has officially evacuated its consulate in Iraq's southern city of Basra Tuesday due to the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Twitter Ankara's decision. "In the context of the situation in Iraq, and because of the heightened security risk in the Basra region, our consulate general was evacuated today Tuesday," his tweet read.
The staff at the consulate were moved to Kuwait, according to the AFP report.
Last week, at least 49 Turks were kidnapped by the jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Ankara's consulate in Mosul. At least 30 Turkish truck drivers were also seized in Iraq by ISIL last week.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has assured the public that "intense efforts" are underway to release the hostages.
Erdogan, however, has imposed a media coverage blackout on the kidnappings "for the security of Turkish citizens."
ISIL has continued to gain ground and control throughout Iraq, and now controls two of the country's major cities, Fallujah and Mosul.