Foreign jihadists traded for Turkish hostages: reports

6th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

British media on Monday reported that Turkish hostages freed by the Islamic State group last month may have been released as part of a prisoner exchange for up to 180 jihadist fighters.

The Times newspaper cited a list it had received saying that among the fighters were three French nationals, two British, two Swedes, two Macedonians, one Swiss and one Belgian.

It said the list had been confirmed by its IS sources.

The BBC cited a Whitehall source saying the report was "credible".

The Times report named the two British nationals as 18-year-old Shabazz Suleman and 26-year-old Hisham Folkard.

It did not say how the men had come into Turkish custody.

The report cited a spokesman for a group involved in the deal saying the exchange also included relatives of Abu Bakr al-Iraqi, a senior IS member killed by Syrian rebels in January.

Dozens of Turkish consular officials and their families along with special forces officers seized when the IS group overran the Iraqi city of Mosul were released.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said no money had exchanged hands and that there had been "only diplomatic and political negotiations".

Asked whether hostages had been released in exchange for IS militants, Erdogan said: "It doesn't matter whether there was a swap or not. The most important thing is they (the hostages) are back and reunited with their families."

IS has declared an Islamic "caliphate" across parts of northern Iraq and Syria, committing widespread atrocities and instituting a brutal interpretation of Islamic law.

The group has beheaded two US journalists and two British aid workers in the past few weeks in a gruesome retaliation against the US-led international coalition which is carrying out air strikes on their positions in Iraq and Syria.

© 2014 AFP

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