President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Sept. 20 that Turkey’s 49 hostages held by extremist militants in Iraq for 101 days have been freed through an operation conducted by the country’s spy agency.
Öztürk Yılmaz, Turkey’s consul general in Mosul, and 48 staff of the consulate were brought to Turkey at 5.00 a.m. localtime, and officials stressed that they were all in good health.
“Our consul in Mosul, his family and Turkish citizens at the consulate who had been abducted have been freed by a successful operation,” Erdoğan said in a written statement early Sept. 20, announcing the news to the Turkish public.
“I thank the prime minister and his colleagues for this carefully planned, detailed and secret operation, which continued all night and was successfully completed early morning,” the statement added.
Turkey’s consul general and other staff in Mosul have been held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since June 11.
“Our National Intelligence Agency [MİT] has followed the issue with patience and dedication, and finally performed a successful rescue operation,” the statement added.
According to sources, the operation was not a military one and there were no clashes with ISIL militants. It was rather based on negotiations with local authorities in Iraq that bore fruit late on Sept. 19.
Sources denied the involvement any other country’s intelligence organization and said no ransom money had been paid.
Hurriyet Daily News