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Tikrit airlift from Tuesday

New Delhi, June 29: India will start evacuating its nationals trapped in Iraq’s Tikrit from Tuesday, the foreign ministry has said.

The statement came a day after Iraqi government forces claimed they had regained control of the city that militants have held for the past two weeks.

At least 46 Indian nurses and a few other Indian nationals are believed to be stranded in Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Many of the nurses in Tikrit have indicated they may want to remain in Iraq, foreign ministry officials have said, but others who want to return to India will be flown out by helicopters to Baghdad.

The decision to airlift nationals in Tikrit represents the biggest evacuation of Indian nationals from the conflict zone in central Iraq that militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have seized, including the city of Mosul, where 39 Indians were abducted at least two weeks ago.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj today met Indian envoys from Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE to discuss strategies for evacuating the Indian nationals in Iraq.