Lebanese President Suleiman thanks Gul for pilgrims' release

Lebanese President Suleiman thanks Gul for pilgrims' release

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has called Turkish President Abdullah Gul to thank Turkey for its efforts in saving nine Lebanese pilgrims who were being held hostage by the Syrian opposition and getting them home safely Today`s Zaman reported.

Two Turkish pilots kidnapped by militants in Lebanon were freed Saturday as part of a three-way deal that saw nine Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria released from captivity. The Turks' release is part of a negotiated hostage deal that included the freeing of the kidnapped pilgrims, as well as dozens of women held in Syrian government jails. The nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who were kidnapped by rebels in northern Syria over a year-and-a-half ago arrived in Lebanon safely late Saturday with the efforts of Turkish and Qatari officials.

According to reports circulating in the Turkish media, President Gul's office said that the Lebanese president expressed sorrow for the long abduction of the Turkish pilots and underlined the friendship between Turkey and Lebanon over the phone. Gul told his counterpart that he is satisfied with the Turkish pilots' arrival in Turkey and Lebanese pilgrims' arrival in Lebanon and thanked Suleiman and Lebanese officials for their cooperation over the release of the pilots.

Gul also said that Turkey places great importance on its relations with Lebanon and stressed that Turkey supports the Lebanese nation's security and welfare.

After Saturday's release of the two Turkish Airlines (THY) pilots, who were abducted by gunmen in Beirut in early August, new details have emerged regarding the rescue operations of the Turkish pilots and Lebanese pilgrims. In early August, while the pilots' crew was being driven to their hotel from the Beirut airport, a group called Zuwwar Imam Ali al-Reda kidnapped pilot Murat Akpınar and his co-pilot Murat Ağca. The group demanded that Turkey, in exchange for the pilots' release, increase pressure on the Syrian opposition to release nine Lebanese Shiites who were kidnapped by Syrian opposition fighters in the war-torn country in May of last year.

After arriving safely in Lebanon, the kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims made a statement on Lebanese TV. After denying that they had been kept in Turkey, one of the pilgrims told reporters how they were saved. According to the pilgrim, about 10 days ago they were brought to a town very close to the Turkish border with Syria and then, on Friday, they were taken out of the Syrian town where they were being kept.

The Lebanese pilgrims told the reporters that they did not have any information on where they were being sent on Friday and that they thought they were being moved to a different hideout, not Turkey. "Then we were handed over to a Qatari man and a Turkish man. When I heard people speaking Turkish, I knew we had arrived in Turkey," the pilgrim said, detailing their rescue from Syrian opposition fighters.

Contrary to the statements of the Lebanese pilgrims, Turkey's Sabah daily, known for its closeness to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), reported that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had given his permission for MİT to launch a risky operation to save the nine Lebanese pilgrims, who could be caught in a crossfire between Syrian fighters and al-Qaeda members.

According to Sabah's report, when the situation of the Lebanese pilgrims grew more risky, MİT members asked for Erdoğan's permission to save the nine pilgrims from clashes between opposition fighters and al-Qaeda members in Syria. The report cites high-level officials and says when the intensity of clashes between the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the group that kidnapped the Lebanese Shiites increased, MİT officials decided to carry out an operation to ensure the safety of the pilgrims and eliminate any risk of them being captured by ISIS.

Sabah reported that after Erdoğan approved the rescue mission, a MİT ops team went to Turkey's border with Syria on Oct. 16, entered the Syrian town of Azaz -- only 10 kilometers from the Öncupınar border gate in the Turkish province of Kilis -- and saved the nine Lebanese pilgrims amid increasing clashes.

Qatari role in release of Turkish pilots under question

With the uncovering of information after the release of the Turkish pilots, the role of Qatari officials in the swap has also came to the forefront. After being held in captivity for 71 days, Akpınar and Ağca were flown on a Qatari plane to İstanbul. Some news reports noted that Turkey is content with the Qatari mediator role as it does not wish to make contact itself with the opposition groups in Syria amid allegations that Turkey is giving support to these groups, including radical ones.

Aytun Çıray, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), queried the Qatari role in the swap and sent a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Erdoğan asking whether the $150 million that were allegedly paid to save the pilots were paid from the discretionary fund or by Qatar.

Turkey reveals volume of goods received at Bandirma port in 2M2021
Turkey reveals volume of goods received at Bandirma port in 2M2021
Number of Kazakh companies increases in Turkey
Number of Kazakh companies increases in Turkey
Turkey unveils volume of cargo shipment through Kocaeli port
Turkey unveils volume of cargo shipment through Kocaeli port
Loading Bars
Latest
Some Russian airlines receive permission to make regular flights to Azerbaijan
View of Azerbaijan's liberated territories horrifying - Belarus ambassador
Execution of memorandum on improving insurance literacy starts in Azerbaijan
Uzbekneftegaz completes drilling operations on several wells
Number of transactions at Uzbek Commodity Exchange for 1Q2021 increases
EIB to assist Uzbekistan in developing credit line for project in Aral Sea region
Longest tunnel in Iran to be opened by end of spring
WB expresses readiness to provide digital transformation support to Azerbaijan
Iran creating water trading market
Volume of credit investments in Azerbaijan's economy declines
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
WB predicts fall in gold prices in 2021
Kazakhstan to establish new mobile operator
Exports markets demonstrate growing demand for Georgian medications
Kazakhstan talks ongoing work to open CLAAS agricultural vehicles' assembly plant
Turkmenistan's Turkmenbashi refinery to launch production of Jet A-1 aviation fuel
Uzbekistan, Latvia consider prospects for co-op in ICT
Azerbaijan shows footage from Bash Garvand village of Aghdam district (VIDEO)
Postal operators of Azerbaijan, Turkey launch money transfer service at favorable tariffs
India’s crosses a Landmark with Cumulative Vaccination Coverage more than 13 Crores
SOCAR Ukraine bidding for Odessa Port Plant’s tender
London Bridge station reopens after suspicious item investigated
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
PM Modi to address virtual Leaders' Summit on Climate tomorrow
Turkmenistan's Turkmengeology opens tender for purchase of equipment
Delayed tourism recovery affects Georgian economic growth forecast
India gets elected to three UN ECOSOC bodies
Turkmenistan's Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of chemical products
UK extends G7 Foreign Ministers' meeting invite to India
Kazakhstan’s national postal service operator to buy spares via tender
Georgia prepares for UN Food Systems Summit 2021
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens for Apr. 21
Azerbaijan confirms 2,075 more COVID-19 cases, 2,480 recoveries
Iran Khodro declares amount of money to be saved
IRICA discloses details of Iran’s trade turnover with neighboring countries
Turkey reveals volume of goods received at Bandirma port in 2M2021
Georgian commercial banks see increase in profits
Industrial parks will also operate in Karabakh zone - President Aliyev
COVID-19 stalls launch of direct flights between Kazakhstan, US - ambassador
European countries to resume J&J COVID vaccine deliveries
Azerbaijan discloses volume of vehicles assembled at Ganja Automobile Plant
Dutch Stone City Energy to build TPP in Uzbekistan’s Surkhandarya region
WB names amount of allocations to countries against COVID-19
Carbamide production in Azerbaijan to grow, WB forecasts
Baku Stock Exchange holds auction on placement of CBA short-term notes
Turkmenistan's gas compressor plant contributes gas supply to oil wells
Eurasian Development Bank to support hospitals construction in Kazakhstan
Number of Kazakh companies increases in Turkey
Turkey unveils volume of cargo shipment through Kocaeli port
Onion exports from Georgia up, while imports decrease
Azerbaijan's Ganja Automobile Plant looks to enter markets of EAEU, neighboring countries
TCO talks release of excess amount pollutants at Kazakhstan’s Tengiz field
Azerbaijan eyes to introduce biometric e-signature system
Verizon loses more-than-expected wireless subscribers
Pace of Turkmen industry dev’t accelerating
Volume of Azerbaijan's 1Q2021 oil export to Spain disclosed
Austria increases import of Turkish-made chemicals
Silk Way West Airlines named ‘Cargo Airline of the Year 2020’
Turkey's 1Q2021 furniture export to Austria shows increase
Turkey's furniture export to Iran up
WB says global coal prices to jump in 2021
Cost of electricity imports to Georgia increase
Iran's Jam Petrochemical Complex sees increase in sales
Ukrainian Bees Airline plans to carry out Kyiv - Tbilisi - Kyiv flights
Azerbaijani state budget receipts through State Customs Committee exceed forecasts
Israel and UK consider green travel corridor
Chanel loses European court fight in trademark dispute with Huawei
Azerbaijan records decrease in lending to communications, transport sector
US committed to help diversify economic opportunities for people of Kazakhstan
101-year-old Malaysian INA veteran honoured
Roaming tariffs to be decreased within Eastern Partnership over next 5 years – deputy minister
Kazakhstan increases exports to UK
Iran receives part of its frozen funds from S.Korea to purchase COVID-19 vaccine
Kazakh-German oil extracting JV opens tender to buy batteries
Russia played major role in stopping armed conflict in Karabakh region - Putin
Turkey reveals cargo shipment volumes via its Tekirdag port
Value of Turkish furniture imports by France increases
Turkmenistan's import of Turkish electrical goods soars
BP announces West Azeri planned maintenance program
Passenger cars manufacturing surges in volume in Kazakhstan
Iran to commission over 100 industrial enterprises in Qom Province
Turkmenistan's Turkmennebit reveals data on production, supply of gas
Uzbekneftegaz reveals prices of petrol supplied for exchange trading for Apr. 12-16
PAYSIS names conditions for effectiveness of marketplaces in Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan, Latvia expanding trade and economic co-op
Number of mortgage loans issued by Uzbek commercial banks increased
Second container train from China reaches Baku
Carbon capture capacities to see 250% increase by 2030
Austria's 1Q2021 import of Turkish cars up in value
Instagram launches feature to tackle hate speech, abuse
Armenian fascism - ugliest, most brutal of all that existed in other countries - Azerbaijani president
Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
We are implementing Zangazur corridor, whether Armenia wants it or not - President Aliyev
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 21
Azerbaijan's state budget revenues from State Tax Service exceed forecast
Turkey unveils 2M2021 volume of cargo received by Istanbul port
Uzbekneftegaz to buy synthetic zeolite via tender
German companies' 1Q2021 total capital in Turkey grows
Azerbaijan's 1Q2021 state budget spending mostly account for current costs
Production of certain goods in Iran increases
All news