World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is directly involved in the negotiations to free 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who were abducted in Syria, the Lebanese Daily Star reported on Thursday.
According to the report, a Turkish official has stated that the fates of two Turkish citizens kidnapped in Lebanon -- Abd Basset Orssolane and Aydın Tufan Tekin -- are tied to that of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims currently held in Syria, signaling Ankara's involvement in negotiations to end a crisis that began three months ago.
“The fate of the Turks kidnapped in Lebanon is de facto linked to the fate of the Lebanese inside Syria,” said the same official to the Daily Star.
According to the official, Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and director of General Security Brig. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim were briefed on the current status of the Lebanese kidnapped in Syria by MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.
The report states that Charbel visited Turkey over the weekend in search of accurate information regarding the Lebanese pilgrims amid conflicting media reports concerning the fate of the men, many of whom had been reported dead in air strikes that targeted the Syrian town of Azaz, which killed at least 40 people.
However, Turkish President Abdullah Gül recently stated that the kidnapping of businessman Tekin was not linked to the abduction of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims in Syria. The Lebanese Shiite pilgrims were abducted in Syria in May while returning from a pilgrimage in Iran.
Tekin's abduction by the Meqdad clan in Beirut came after reports that the pilgrims had died in the air strikes in Azaz in northern Syria.
“We are doing what we can to save the abducted Lebanese, but this is an issue that we are not directly involved in,” said Gül.
The clan said that Tekin was kidnapped in retaliation for the Free Syrian Army's abduction of their relative Hasan Meqdad in Damascus. Meanwhile, the clan warned on Monday of unspecified action if their kinsman kidnapped in Syria is not released soon, raising fears that the Turkish hostages' life may be in danger.
The report also stated that officials at the Turkish Embassy maintained that the issue of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims and the two Turkish citizens kidnapped in Beirut were independent of one another, adding that Turkish officials were working to secure the pilgrims' release. The official also said that last week's strikes on the Syrian town of Azaz had further complicated the case of the Lebanese pilgrims in Syria.
Speaking at southern border crossing Deputy PM Akdogan says all 35,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Turkey are being cared for
Mevlut Cavusoglu strikes note of caution amid reports of proposed cessation of hostilities in Syria
The building collapsed in a street close to Istanbul's pedestrian Istiklal Avenue, a main shopping district, leaving piles of rubble
'What is important now is embracing this opportunity, stopping the airstrikes, ceasing targeting civilians and providing humanitarian access,' Turkish foreign minister says
AFAD figures suggest Turkish aid to Syrian refugees dwarfs that of international organizations
'The operations in Cizre have been successfully completed as of today,' interior minister says
Turkish president has criticized UN and EU over refugee issue
Two suspects are accused of smuggling refugees and causing the deaths of five people, including three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, his five-year-old elder brother Galip and his mother Rihan
Attackers targeted pro-AK Party dailies Yeni Safak and Yeni Akit with Molotov cocktails and guns
Ahmet Davutoglu calls on international community not to pin its 'inability' on Turkey
"I find it hypocritical that some circles are telling Turkey to 'open your borders' while at the same time failing to tell Russia 'enough is enough'," Davutoglu says
State Dept. maintains US does not consider Syrian PYD a terrorist group
After an official visit to Saudi Arabia by the Turkish Chief of General Staff, it has been revealed that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will conduct joint military exercises.
Negotiations will reportedly focus on Gaza blockade and Hamas presence in Ankara
Mevlut Cavusoglu's remarks come after Washington's description of PYD as a 'reliable partner' in the fight against ISIL