No ransom paid for IS hostages release, says Turkish president

Erdogan describes release as covert rescue operation and ‘diplomatic success’

 Turkish police use tear gas and water cannon today to disperse Kurdish protesters trying to cross the Turkey-Syria border at Suruc District, Sanliurfa city, to support Syrian Kurdish fighters (PYD) against Islamic State militants.  Photograph: Ulas Yunus Tosun/EPA

Turkish police use tear gas and water cannon today to disperse Kurdish protesters trying to cross the Turkey-Syria border at Suruc District, Sanliurfa city, to support Syrian Kurdish fighters (PYD) against Islamic State militants. Photograph: Ulas Yunus Tosun/EPA

 

President Tayyip Erdogan has claimed no ransom was paid for the release of Turkish hostages held by Islamic State in Iraq and said it was the result of diplomatic and political negotiation.

Turkish intelligence agents brought 46 hostages seized by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq back to Turkey yesterday after more than three months in captivity, in what Mr Erdogan described as a covert rescue operation.

“A material negotiation is totally out of the question ... This is a diplomatic success,” he said before leaving for the UN General Assembly.

Security sources told Reuters yesterday the hostages had been released overnight in the town of Tel Abyad on the Syrian side of the border after being transferred from the eastern city of Raqqa, Islamic State’s stronghold. Officials declined to give details of the rescue operation.

The hostages, including Turkey’s consul-general, diplomats’ children and special forces soldiers, were seized from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on June 11th during a lightning advance by the Sunni insurgents.

Mr Erdogan said he had discussed a buffer zone on the Syrian border with US president Barack Obama and Nato allies at the Nato summit earlier this month. Reuters