India issued a strong statement supporting Iraq’s government, saying it was deeply concerned with deteriorating security situation in Iraq” calling the takeover of towns like Tikrit and Mosul by the sunni-militant ISIS group “a direct threat to the security and territorial integrity of Iraq.”

As fighting raged on in parts of Iraq, there is still no word on how 46 nurses stranded in the town of ISIS-held Tikrit will be able to return to India. The Ambassador of India in Iraq, Ajay Kumar told The Hindu that the situation on the roads remains unsafe, and after consulting both U.N. agencies and the Iraqi government, has advised the nurses to stay indoors and await clear passage to Baghdad.

Official sources also said that when Embassy officials enquired from the nurses, the “majority of nurses in Tikrit prefer to stay back for the moment, as their salaries haven’t been paid, and they would rather not return.” The families of some of these nurses are urging the government to help bring them home immediately, even as the Kerala Nurses Association issued an appeal calling on the Central and State governments to address the worries of the “struggling nurses” including arranging an emergency evacuation.

Official sources said that an “evacuation is not on the cards” for now, but advised all Indian nationals to return by commercial routes that are available. A statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said, “The safety and security of the Indian nationals currently in Iraq remains a matter of serious concern for the Government of India.”

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