Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu with the released hostages. File photo
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Beirut, Lebanon – Turkish local media recently revisited the issue of Turkish hostages previously detained by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) in Iraqi Mosul and later released in exchange for 180 jihadists arrested in Turkey.
Based according to the British Times, three French, two British, two Swedish, two Macedonians, a Swiss and a Belgian national were among the detained jihadists.
Shihbaz Salman,18, and Hisham Fokard, 26, were the two British jihadists included in the Turkey-IS exchange of hostages.
The spokesperson of one of the mediating groups, participating in the detainees’ exchange operation, pointed out that Abu Bakr al-Iraqi’s relatives were included in the exchange.
Al-Iraqi was one of the eminent figures of IS who was killed in December 2013 by Syrian militants.
The UK reportedly demanded the that Turkish government clarify the specifics of the exchange operation.
“We continuously contact the Turkish government to deliberate the issue of the recently released jihadists,” a source in the British Foreign Ministry said.
British officials think that the exchanging operation is vague, saying that Turkey, the NATO member, might has strong links with some of the IS -linked groups.
Militants of the IS detained dozens of employees at the Turkish Consulate with their families when the group controlled the city of Mosul in northern Syria, June 2014.
Following the hostages’ release, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara: “We were able to get our hostages released solely through political and diplomatic negotiations.”
“What matters in this operation is liberating 49 Turkish citizens and bringing them back to their country and families,” Erdogan added.
Speaking to ARA News, Syrian writer Abdo Khalil commented on the issue saying: “This operation is a proof of Turkish involvement in ties with the Islamic State’s terrorists.”
Khalil pointed out that the issue of the Turkish hostages in Mosul was the main reason for Turkey’s reluctance towards joining any anti-IS military action outside its borders.
“If Turkey would do the opposite, conflicts with IS might have moved to the Turkish territory,” Khalil said.
He also mentioned Turkey’s disagreement with any anti-IS operations in Syria due to the fears of a possible establishment of a Kurdish entity, ” especially that the PKK-linked Kurdish forces are the ones who fight against IS extremists in the Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria”.
Kurdish researcher Khorshid Delli pointed out that Turkey used IS in its war against Syria, Iraq and the Kurds.
“Turkey is trying to reach an agreement with Washington against IS as a provision to participate in the US-led Coalition against the group. By coordinating with the U.S., Turkey wants to prove its essential role as an influential regional power; taking into account its competition with a country like Saudi Arabia regarding issues at stake in the region,” Delli said.
According to Delli, Turkey demands some guarantees that no Kurdish entity will be established in Syria following a possible elimination of IS and removal of the Assad regime.
Reporting by: Hussam al-Zeer
Source: ARA News