Forty-nine Turkish citizens who have been held hostage by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for over 50 days will likely be freed in the next day or two, Turkey's Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Aug. 2, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"We are pursuing contacts with all parties in Iraq. We are in contact with everyone who has an influence on ISIL. They (the hostages) may come back tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," Yilmaz told reporters in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, but still urged patience.
"You may either have an operation to get [the hostages] back, or solve this problem through negotiations with patience," the mnister said. "We want to solve the issue through negotiations, because we belive this is the right way. They [the hostages' families] should have a little more patience."
The efforts for the release of the hostages are made in coordination by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the Foreign Ministry. Despite Yılmaz's statements, Foreign Ministry officials told daily Hürriyet that there were not any developments.
"There is no development regarding the situation, and we do not know if Minister Yılmaz has any new information," one unnamed Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying by Hürriyet.
Militants of ISIL, which now calls itself the Islamic State (IS), stormed the Turkish Consulate in Mosul on June 10, taking 49 Turkish citizens hostage, including Turkey's Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz.
Nearly a week after the kidnapping, a gag order was imposed on the issue and the ruling was delivered to media outlets by Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) on June 17.
Failure to comply with the ban could lead to financial fines and the suspension of broadcasts or publications.