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Iraqi FM says ISIL militants 'on the run'

Iraq's Hoshyar Zebari says ISIL militants were already withdrawing from Mosul and strategic places in Tikrit after security forces fought back
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari speaks to the media on June 12, 2014 in London (AA)

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday militants who have stormed two cities were "on the run" after the security forces fought back.

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were advancing to other cities after over-running the cities of Mosul and Tikrit in recent days.

Zebari, who was attending a conference in London, admitted there had been "a serious development in the city of Mosul and Tikrit".

"But the information I have today from my capital... the situation (has) started to be reversed and the Iraqi security forces have managed to reorganise and to push them back to prevent them from taking some other important strategic installations further south of Tikrit," he told Sky News television.

"Now I think they are on the run, the (ISIL) people and Al-Qaeda and the armed groups."

ISIL has spearheaded a lightning offensive, overrunning the northern province of Nineveh and significant parts of Kirkuk and Salaheddin provinces, and also moving into northern Diyala.

Zebari admitted the offensive was "a very, very serious disruption" for Iraq, particularly for the US-trained security forces.

"It is a setback definitely for the Iraqi security forces, who collapsed in the largest city and abandoned their weapons and equipment," he said.

"Now we are trying to overcome this, to flush these terrorists out of our major cities."

He said there were signs the militants were already withdrawing from Mosul because the security forces were fighting back.

"There are indications they are withdrawing from Mosul because of the counter-offensive or attack and there is a better coordination between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government who are also pushing in the north towards certain strategic areas," he said.

'The situation has changed positively'

The Iraqi forces have prevented ISIL from getting close to Baghdad, said Zebari. 

He told Anadolu Agency: "The situation has changed positively, since yesterday."

Zebari said that the ISIL could be defeated, adding: “There has to be a genuine reconciliation - a true inclusiveness.

"For everyone to feel that they have their rights, their constitutional rights, that there is no discrimination, that there is no marginalization, and to abide by the same constitution to have loyalty to their nation, to their country, to their military."

“There has to be changes, this was a big shock,” he said.

The foreign minister said that the neighbouring conflict in Syria was to blame for what was happening in Iraq.

Meanwhile a top Kurdish official said the 49 staff and their families abducted from Turkey's consulate in Mosul maybe rescued soon.

Jabbar Yawar, Secretary-General of the KRG's Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, told Anadolu Agency: "We are hopeful that we are going to rescue them soon. We will do our best for this."

He said that clashes between the Iraqi Army and ISIL militants were continuing.

Yawar added: "The Iraqi army is so powerless that the militants are already at the gate of Baghdad.

Asked whether it was possible that Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi Army could fight together against ISIL, Yawar said there was no Iraqi Army left to fight with.

"As far as we can see, the Iraqi army has completely pulled out of Mosul, Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Samarra," he said.  

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