03:42 GMT +310 December 2019
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    Iraqi special forces take part in an operation against Islamic State militants in Kokjali, west of Mosul, Iraq November 2, 2016

    India Hopes Mosul Liberation Will Lead to Safe Return of 39 Hostages

    © REUTERS / Thaier Al-Sudaini
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    As Iraqi forces inch closer to wresting Mosul from Daesh, India anxiously awaits the fate of its citizens from Punjab and Bengal captured in the city two years ago.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) India is hoping that the final showdown between Iraqi Army’s elite counter-terrorism forces and Daesh fighters in Mosul will result in the freedom of its citizens from the clutches of Daesh. But concern is also equally high that terrorists may use hostages as human shield.

    Sources said the Indian government is in touch with Baghdad and has requested the Iraqi government to instruct the forces to look for the 39 Indian hostages once the war zone is wrested from the terrorists.

    The newly-opened Indian Consulate in the autonomous Kurdistan area of Iraq is coordinating with the Indian Embassy in Baghdad to establish their whereabouts. The Kurdish Peshmegra forces are also supporting the Iraqi Army’s elite counter-terrorism forces in the offensive against ISIS.

    Forty Indians, mostly hailing from India’s northern state of Punjab besides West Bengal were captured by Daesh and suspected to be conscripted as slaves. One of them has reportedly escaped back to India. The fate of the 39 others is still unknown despite strong efforts by India to track them.

    Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has repeatedly relied on inputs from intelligence agencies to assure their families that the hostages were alive.


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