Mayor urges all forces to liberate his Christian town from ISIS

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Mayor of Telkef Basim Balo speaking to Rudaw TV.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The mayor of the Christian town of Telkef believes that there aren’t serious intentions for the liberation of his town from the Islamic State (ISIS), saying that the fate of his area should not be tied with Mosul operations.

“The military and security officials always tie the liberation of Telkef to that of Mosul,” Mayor Basim Balo who now resides in Erbil told Rudaw. “They say it is an inclusive plan and not possible to liberate some areas and leave Mosul in the hands of ISIS.”

Balo said that the joint operations command in Erbil comprising of Peshmerga and coalition forces must take concrete steps on the ground to retake his town and other areas in the Nineveh plains.

“Up to this point there are no clear steps or plan for retaking those areas other than some official statement that we hear every now and then,” he said.

“There should be real operations on the ground to retake and support those areas,” he added.

The town of Telkef was captured by ISIS militants in the summer of 2014 shortly after they overran the city of Mosul.

The majority of Telkef’s population fled to the safety of the Kurdistan Region.

Mayor Balo maintained that Iraqi forces might be sincere about retaking the area from the radical Islamists, but that it is unpractical to count on them.

“The Iraqi forces will have to take back all of Salahaddin then march north to Mosul and take that city, but Salahaddin itself isn’t yet liberated completely and there are still areas in Kirkuk too that are under ISIS control,” he said.

Balo urged the Kurds, Iraq and the foreign coalition to put their forces together in order to overcome ISIS.

“There is no force today that can retake these areas by itself and without full coordination with others whether it is the international coalition, Iraqi army or the Peshmerga,” he said. “All have to work together.”