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.
Turkish defense contractor Aselsan and French defense contractor Thales on Thursday agreed to install Thales-made Lightweight Multi-role Missiles on Turkish Aselsan's launch-pad
Babacan met PM late on Wednesday, triggering speculation but officials dismiss talk of resignation
A mosque was torched Wednesday near the southern city of Bethlehem.
Premier Davutoglu says such attacks will never discourage Turkey from contributing to maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Ramazan Akyurek detained in Ankara after Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office ordered the detention.
Thursday’s dailies focus on Turkish president Erdogan’s remarks on latest interest rate cut, aftermath of military aircraft crash in eastern Turkey and further details on 'Shah Firat' operation in Turkey's Syrian exclave.
Turkish President questions whether central bank was under external influence in a speech given in Ankara today.
Turkish parliament’s general assembly accepts first 20 articles of 132-article domestic security package.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek tells Canadian Turks that community groups should become more united.
The security sources said arrest warrants were issued for 54 people and 40 of them had so far been held in simultaneous raids centred on Ankara and spanning 20 provinces across Turkey.
Turkey will make a total two billion lira ($814 million) payment to farmers in support for fuel, fertiliser and forage crop purchases at the end of February
Wednesday's dailies mostly covered the death of four air force pilots who died in a training accident, a bitter war of words over the removal of Turkey's Suleyman Shah tomb in Syria, plus fallout over the interest rate cut by the Turkish Central Bank.
As space agencies reveal plans to send people to the red planet for the first time, AA meets the Turkish architect imagining whole extraterrestrial communities.
Austria will go back 100 years with its Islam bill, says Mehmet Gormez.
Two Turkish warplanes crashed during a training exercise in the central Turkish province of Malatya