The Indian Navy has put two warships on standby for possible evacuation of Indians stranded in strife-torn Iraq. Navy sources said that INS Mysore, a powerful Delhi class destroyer, reached the Persian Gulf on Saturday. “We are awaiting orders,” naval sources said.
Another warship, INS Tarkash, is in the Gulf of Aden. Though INS Tarkash is there for antipiracy operations, it is ready to take on any new task, sources said.
The decision to send INS Mysore was taken at a meeting of the crisis management group on Friday. The meeting was attended by, among others, the three service chiefs.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India will provide all possible assistance to Indians stranded in Iraq. “All our national assets will be in readiness, should they be required to assist Indian nationals,” he said. The MEA has already rushed a team to Iraq to assist evacuation of Indians. Government sources said many of the Indians in Iraq do not have valid travel documents, and this will only add to evacuation challenges.
The Navy has in the past carried out evacuations in the Gulf region. In 2006, it also evacuated hundreds of Indian, Nepalese and Sri Lankan nationals stranded in Lebanon.