World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi forces backed by Turkmen vigilante groups regained control in some areas of the Turkmen-majority city of Tal Afar following violent fighting with militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant rebels, according to a Turkmen tribal leader.
"Special forces backed by local police and Turkmen tribal fighters managed to expel ISIL militants from many regions in Tal Afar," Haydar Ali Joulaq, leader of a Turkmen tribe in the city, told Anadolu Agency.
Five ISIL rebels were killed, several others were wounded while others started to withdraw from the city, according to Joulaq.
"The Iraqi flag was hoisted on several police stations in the neighborhoods cleared of ISIL militants," Joulaq added.
ISIL captured the Turkmen-majority city of Tal Afar on Monday and Iraqi Army forces withdrew from Tuz Khurmatu with no appointment of replacement Peshmerga forces (Kurdish fighters) made to defend the city while ISIL forces stopped short of two kilometers outside the city.
Turkmen from Tuz Khurmatu in Northern Iraq have taken up arms on Tuesday to deter rebel from ISIL attacking the city.
Shiite Turkmen worried
The minority Shia Turkmen community from Tuz Khurmatu, which lies south of northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, fear that ISIL rebels will attack their town and kill its residents, said Turkmen fighters commander Arjomend Mali.
Mali told the Anadolu Agency that "an estimated 1500 youths from the town have arms, and are taking turns day and night to guard the town."
"We found ourselves forced to take up arms since there is no Iraqi Army nor Peshmerga forces," he added.
Mali said that Turkmen in the region of Dakuk and Bashir village, in the Kirkuk district, also remained without protection in the face of ISIL rebels.
The Tuz Khurmatu Turkmen are supported by the Iraqi Turkmen Front, led by Ershad Salihi.
“Turkmen have the right to use weapons to protect themselves and they will do so,” said Iraqi Turkmen Front Leader during a press conference attended by armed Turkmen fighters on Monday.
Salihi said that necessary measures should be taken immediately as the developments in Iraq were heading toward a sectarian war.
“None of the sides will come out in victory,” he said. “Iraqi people have suffered, but Turkmen have been the most negatively affected by the recent developments in the country."
Turkey concerned about safety of Iraqi Turkmens
Turkey's foreign minister has voiced concerns over the attacks on Iraqi Turkmens in the Turkmen-majority city of Tal Afar as unrest is growing high in Iraq since militants led by the ISIL have extended their reach across Iraq since June 10.
Turkey has begun sending humanitarian to Iraq's violence-hit cities, particularly Turkmen-populated areas, Ahmet Davutoglu told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
"We are following the situation in Iraq closely and holding talks with Iraqi Turkmen Front Leader Ershad Salihi, Kurdish officials in Erbil and the Baghdad government," he said.
Davutoglu stated that Turkey's official disaster authority AFAD began sending humanitarian aid, tents, food and medical supplies to the displaced in Iraq.
He added that he would leave for Jeddah on Wednesday to attend the foreign ministers summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the crisis in Iraq with his counterparts.Last Mod: 18 Haziran 2014, 09:15