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Deal denied as rebels release Turks

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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (C) celebrates with the daughter of Turkey's Mosul Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz (not seen) during a welcoming ceremony at Esenboga airport in Ankara

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (C) celebrates with the daughter of Turkey's Mosul Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz (not seen) during a welcoming ceremony at Esenboga airport in Ankara

REUTERS

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (C) celebrates with the daughter of Turkey's Mosul Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz (not seen) during a welcoming ceremony at Esenboga airport in Ankara

Mystery surrounds the surprise release of 49 Turkish diplomats and their families held captive for three months by Isil.

The Turkish government is denying any deal with the hostage-takers, making it unclear why Isil, notorious for its cruelty and ruthlessness, should hand over its Turkish prisoners on Saturday without a quid pro quo.

Hailed in Ankara as a triumph for Turkey, the freeing of the diplomats seized when Mosul fell to Isil on June 10 raises fresh questions about the relationship between the Turkish government and Isil.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the release is the result of a covert operation by Turkish intelligence that must remain a secret.

He added yesterday that "there are things we cannot talk about. To run the state is not like running a grocery store. We have to protect our sensitive issues; if you don't there would be a price to pay".

Turkey denies that a ransom was paid or promises made.

Many Kurds are expressing bitterness towards the Turkish government, claiming that it is colluding with Isil to destroy the independent enclaves of the Syrian Kurds, who number 2.5 million, along the Turkish border. The pro-Kurdish Amed news agency asks "if Isil (is)the paramilitary wing of the neo-Ottomanism project of Turkey in the Middle East?"

The Turkish government vehemently denies any collaboration with Isil.

Nevertheless, the strange circumstances of both the capture of the 49 Turks and their release shows that Ankara has a different and more intimate relationship with Isil than other countries. Pro-Isil Turkish websites say the Turks were released on the direct orders of "the caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

They had been moved to Raqqa, the Syrian headquarters of Isil from Mosul, and both men and women were well-dressed and appeared to have suffered little harm from their imprisonment.

This is in sharp contrast to the treatment of Alan Henning, the British taxi driver seized when taking aid to Syria, and still being held by the group, and of the journalists who have been ritually murdered by Isil. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent