Biden calls for ‘immediate’ return of Turkish hostages

Forty nine Turkish citizens were kidnapped from a Turkish consulate in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul after ISIS militants took over the province

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Wednesday for the “safe and immediate” return of 49 Turkish citizens kidnapped from a consulate in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul.

Turkey has pledged to retaliate if the hostages are harmed, saying the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria kidnapped 49 of its citizens at the consulate and took them to another part of Mosul.

During a call with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Biden “underscored (that) the United States condemns the actions taken by ISIS, calls for the safe and immediate return of the Turkish personnel and family members, and supports efforts by Iraqi national and Kurdish security forces to work together to combat the ISIS threat,” a White House statement said.

Biden also told Erdogan that “the United States is prepared to support Turkey’s efforts to bring about the safe return of its citizens and will stay in close touch with the Turkish and Iraqi governments regarding a resolution to the security situation,” the statement added.

Ankara has informed its NATO allies of the situation but stopped short of requesting any help, said a source after the meeting in Brussels.

“All those involved should know that if our citizens are harmed in any way, they will be the subject of harsh reprisals,” Turkish media quoted Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying at the United Nations.

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