Turkish soldier kidnapped in Syria: Sources

Turkish soldier kidnapped in Syria: Sources

ANKARA – Uğur Ergan
Turkish soldier kidnapped in Syria: Sources

ISIL militants (Rear) stand next to a flag atop a hill in Kobane as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border. AFP photo

A Turkish noncommissioned officer has been kidnapped as he crossed the border into Syria from the southeastern Turkish province of Kilis in an effort to chase smugglers.

The kidnapping took place on the first day of the year, daily Hürriyet has learned, while military sources have also confirmed the incident.

The identity of the kidnapped soldier has not been revealed. 

The security forces have focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been fighting against the ISIL jihadists in Syria, as possible actors.

Sources have also said the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was joining the efforts to secure the soldier's release.

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. 

Turkey’s hostages were freed after 101 days following a secret operation MİT on Sept. 20, 2014, the government said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to confirm or deny any swap for the release of the Turkish hostages in a speech on Sept. 21, saying diplomatic efforts played a role and that no ransom was paid to ISIL.  

However, a news report by British daily The Times suggested that some 180 jihadists, including two British citizens, were handed over to ISIL in the deal to secure the release of the Turkish hostages. The report has been neither confirmed nor denied by Turkish officials.