Middle East News

Islamic State Frees Turkish Hostages

Dozens of Turkish hostages held by the Islamic State for more than three months were released on Saturday morning and were brought to Turkey, Turkish officials said.

Out of 49 hostages, 46 were Turkish citizens, mostly consuls, diplomats and their families, who were captured when the militants took seized control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“They came to Turkey at 5 a.m. in the morning. We followed the developments closely all night,” said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from a state visit in Daku, Azerbaijan. He needed to cut the visit short to meet the released hostages. “This happy development prepared us for a beautiful morning.”

The militants earlier released three of the consulate’s Iraqi staff, he added.

Officials did not release further details of the release,  including the preconditions, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said authorities executed a “pre-planned, detailed and secret operation, Agence France-Presse reported.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”–President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “]

It continued all through the night and was successfully completed in the early morning. From the very first day, our intelligence agency has followed the issue with patience and determination and finally carried out a successful rescue operation,


According to local reports, Turkey did not pay ransom to secure the captives’ release but instead negotiated with the Islamic State militants.

Devutoglu met the freed hostages in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa near the Iraqi border then immediately flew them back to the capital city of Ankara.

Speaking on top of a bus in front of a cheering crowd at the airport of Turkey’s capital Ankara, Davutoglu said: “There are unnamed heroes, like those who brought our citizens back to Turkey. They acted for the sake of our country, for the sake of our people. I salute them.”

It is not yet known how the latest development would affect Turkey’s potential role in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. In an earlier report by the AFP, a Turkish official said Turkey’s hands are “tied” because of the hostages and will instead focus on humanitarian operations than the military campaigns against militants.

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