Turkish FM meets families of kidnapped pilots in Lebanon
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met Sept.10 with the families of two Turkish pilots kidnapped last month in Beirut in a case linked to the Syrian conflict. AA photoForeign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met Sept.10 with the families of two Turkish pilots kidnapped last month in Beirut in a case linked to the Syrian conflict.
After the meeting, İrfan Medet Akpınar, brother of kidnapped pilot Murat Akpınar, said the minister shared up-to-date information about the situation of the pilots.
“We have received current and accurate information and we are more hopeful now. Our belief [that both pilots will be returned to us] has strengthened; we have held this held belief since the beginning [of the kidnapping saga] and will continue to do so,” Akpınar told reporters.
Stressing that his speech would also be broadcast in Lebanon, Akpınar said: “My dear brother, dear Murat Ağca, do not worry. Both our government and our nation are powerful. Be strong there. You don’t have any fault. You did not even harm anyone. You were kidnapped solely for political reasons, but all of Turkey is with you. All the units of the government are with you. We, as your family, are with you. We are strong and nothing can take this power from us.”
Gunmen abducted Murat Akpınar and his assistant, Murat Ağca, on Aug. 9 in Beirut after a shuttle carrying the pilot, the assistant pilot and the crew was stopped by four gunmen on the way from the airport to the hotel.
A group calling itself Zuwwar Imam al-Rida claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, demanding Turkey use its influence with Syrian rebels to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiites kidnapped in Syria in May 2012. Lebanese authorities have arrested three suspects and charged them in connection with the abduction. The pilots were kidnapped in a majority Shiite area of Beirut, controlled mainly by the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.