UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemned the upsurge of violence in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by what it described as a terrorist organization attempting to destabilize the region.
The 15-nation council also demanded the immediate release of Turkish hostages seized by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Islamist militants tied to al Qaeda and active in northern Iraq and Syria.
"The Security Council deplored in the strongest terms the recent events in the city of Mosul in Iraq where elements of the terrorist organization ... ISIL have taken over significant parts of the city, including the Turkish Consulate and many government buildings, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people," the council said.
It said that "the recent terrorist attacks ... are being perpetrated against the people of Iraq in an attempt to destabilize the country and region."
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, president of the Security Council this month, read out the statement to reporters. He added that suggestions about possible action against ISIL might come up when the council discusses Iraq on Thursday.
The council could add ISIL to its al Qaeda sanctions list, which would subject it to an international asset freeze.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed the council's condemnation, saying that "terrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path towards democracy in Iraq as determined by the will of the Iraqi people."
Turkey warned on Wednesday that it would retaliate if any of its 80 nationals, including special forces soldiers, diplomats and children, seized by ISIL during a lightning advance in northern Iraq were harmed.
The capture of Turkish hostages came a day after ISIL took control of Mosul, putting security forces to flight in a spectacular show of strength against the Shi'ite-led Baghdad government.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)