Released Turkish workers on way to embassy, ambassador says

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Sixteen Turkish workers who were being held captive by Shiite militias in Iraq have been released and are now on the way to the embassy, according to Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Faruk Kaymakçı.

“We took the workers 55-60 kilometers south of Baghdad, and we are on the way back to the embassy right now,” the ambassador told the Hürriyet Daily News on Sept. 30. 

The ambassador said they received a phone call from the workers following their release. “We told them to wait on the road. Their state of health is good. The workers said they were not treated badly,” Kaymakçı said.

“Turkey’s Iraqi ambassador has just received our 16 workers that were captured in Baghdad. I have talked to some of our workers on the phone,” the prime minister said on his official Twitter account.

Eighteen employees of major Turkish construction firm Nurol İnşaat were kidnapped on Sept. 2 in the Sadr City area of north Baghdad, where they were working on a football stadium project.

In the following days, an unknown militant group claimed responsibility for the kidnappings in a video posted online and issued a list of demands it said Ankara must fulfill for them to be freed.

Two of the kidnapped workers were subsequently released in a gesture of goodwill.

The release of the 16 Turkish workers came after the group released a videotape saying the Turkish government met their demands. Turkey ordered the al-Fat’h militia, a Sunni militia in Syria, to ease the siege of two Shiite towns in northern Syria and opened a safe passage for “10,000 innocent women, children, elderly and sick people” trapped there, the statement said.

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