The conflict in Iraq came up for discussion at a meeting of senior officials, including the Cabinet Secretary and the services chiefs, here today in which the government is understood to have discussed the options for ensuring safety of Indians stranded in that country.
The meeting was chaired by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth and attended by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan along with officials of the other ministries dealing with the issue, sources said here today.
It is understood that the option of evacuating the Indian stranded in the strife-torn parts of Iraq also came up at the meeting. Sources said IAF aircraft may be used for the task if any decision in this regard is taken by the government.
Asked if IAF was putting its aircraft on stand by for evacuating Indians from Iraq, IAF spokesperson Group Captain Gerard Galway said "IAF is always on stand by and if tasked, we can carry out this assignment also." IAF has big heavylift aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster III and the C-130J Super Hercules which can be tasked for carrying out possible evacuation.
India has so far evacuated around 36 of its nationals from Iraq who had expressed willingness to return to India. Around 10,000 Indians are staying in different parts of Iraq but all of them are not facing problems due to the ongoing conflict between the Iraqi government and the Sunni militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).