ANKARA: The exiled governor of Mosul, Iraq’s second city which was seized by Islamist fighters last week, has called for U.S. and Turkish air strikes against the militants.
“Air strikes might be conducted, not in the cities but on (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) ISIL bases in uninhabited areas,” Atil al-Nujaifi said in comments published Sunday in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
“We need political and logistical support, but not foreign troops,” he added.
His comments came as Washington deployed an aircraft carrier to the Gulf and Baghdad launched a counter-offensive against extremist Sunni militants who have overrun all of one Iraqi province and chunks of three more since launching their offensive last Monday.
Speaking from Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, Nujaifi said he doubted Baghdad’s security forces—some of whom abandoned their uniforms and vehicles when ISIL fighters attacked—would be able to repel the militant advance on their own.
“(The Iraqi army) cannot fight against ISIL. Only Sunnis can do that, because then ISIL would not be able to use sectarian issues” to gather support, he said.
Nujaifi criticized the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for failing to protect civilians.
ISIL fighters kidnapped 49 Turks including diplomats and children when they stormed Turkey’s consul in Mosul on Wednesday, in addition to 31 truck drivers seized earlier in the week.
Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru ruled out the prospect of a military operation to free the abductees but also told reporters there was “no negotiation process” with ISIL.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he was “looking at all the options” to halt the offensive that has brought militants within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Baghdad’s city limits, but ruled out any return of U.S. troops to Iraq.