President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sept. 21 that no ransom was paid for the release of Turkish hostages held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq, saying the release was secured by "diplomatic and political negotiation", Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"There was no bargain for money at all, but only diplomatic and political negotiations. And this is a diplomatic victory," Erdogan told reporters at Ankara's Esenboga Airport before departing for New York for a U.N. General Assembly meeting.
Turkish intelligence agents brought 46 hostages seized by ISIL militants in northern Iraq back to Turkey on Sept. 20 after more than three months in captivity, in what Erdogan described as a "covert rescue operation."
The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was heavily involved in following the kidnapping and reportedly never lost connection with Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz, who was occasionally able to communicate with Turkish officials via mobile phone.
Speaking before boarding his plane, Erdoğan also said he had discussed a buffer zone on the Syrian border with U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO allies at the NATO summit earlier this month.