Turkish soldier kidnapped in Syria freed: PM
ISTANBULThe Turkish soldier who went missing after crossing the border into Syria during an anti-smuggling operation has been brought back to Turkey.
"I would like to convey my regards to our soldier, who is on his way back to the country thanks to a successful operation of the MİT [Turkey's National Intelligence Organization], as well as his family and our Turkish Armed Forces," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in a tweet on Jan. 5. He did not elaborate on the details of the operation.
The noncommissioned officer, identified only as Özgür Ö., went missing on Jan. 1 after crossing into Syria from the southeastern Turkish province of Kilis while chasing smugglers.
The General Staff confirmed that the officer was missing, stating that all authorities, including MİT, were working to find the soldier.
“A thorough investigation is under way. But a cross-border operation has not taken place,” it said in the statement.
The Turkish army had also noted that there was no information that the soldier was captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The security forces are reportedly focusing on ISIL militants or the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been fighting against ISIL jihadists in Syria, as potentially responsible for the missing Özgür Ö.
Some 46 Turkish citizens and three Iraqi staff members were kidnapped on June 11 last year by ISIL after the jihadists seized control of Mosul. The hostages were freed after 101 days following a secret operation conducted by the MİT on Sept. 20, 2014.