Dozens of Turkish hostages freed by Isis in ‘pre-planned’ operation

SHAFAQNA – Islamic militants have freed 49 Turkish people seized in Iraq, bringing to an end the country’s most serious hostage crisis The hostages were taken from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on June 11, when Isis overran the city as it went on to take large parts of the country’s north Among those taken were consul general Ozturk Yilmaz, other diplomats, children and special forces police. They were released early on Saturday and are already in Turkey, where they were met by prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu It was not exactly clear what Turkey had done to secure the safe release of the hostages but it appeared the group had been moved from Iraq to Syria and then flown in to the border territory of Sanliurfa.

Turkey had been reticent to join a coalition of forces opposing Isis, citing the safety of its 49 kidnapped citizens and recent beheadings of both American and British hostage Davutoglu said the release was the result of his intelligence agency’s “own methods” and not a “point operation” involving special forces. Turkish broadcasters have said no ransom was paid for the hostages’ release He said: “After intense efforts that lasted days and weeks, in the early hours our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back to our country.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I thank the prime minister and his colleagues for this operation, which was pre-planned, whose every detail was calculated, which lasted through the night in total secrecy and ended successfully this morning.”

Thirty-two Turkish truck drivers who were also seized in Mosul on June 6 were released a month later. Turkey did not provide information surrounding their release.

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