A foreign ministry source says the National Intelligence Organization operation to free the Turkish hostages in Mosul followed careful planning and analysis of other ISIL kidnapping cases.
The operation to free the Turkish consulate staff and their families was a “national operation” conducted solely by the foreign branch of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), according to a foreign ministry source.
Officers from the foreign operations department of MIT developed a strategy to free the 46 Turkish hostages after analyzing other ISIL kidnapping cases in Syria and Iraq, the source said.
Using local assets on the ground in Mosul, unmanned reconnaissance drones and electronic communications, the MIT strategy proved successful at the beginning of July when a group of Turkish truck drivers held by ISIL for 23 days in Mosul was freed.
The source said the safety of the hostages was the main priority throughout their 101 days of captivity.
The same source insisted that Turkey did not pay any ransom or agree any conditions for the captives’ release.
The group was held at eight different locations during their captivity, with their movements constantly followed by drones and other intelligence assets from the first day.
The source also revealed that up to six previous attempts had been made to secure the hostages’ freedom but failed because of fighting in northern Iraq.
The operation was delayed to Saturday until a lull in fighting between ISIL and Kurdish PYD near the Syrian border allowed the hostages to be taken out via Tal Abyad, an ISIL-controlled city in northern Syria, and the Akcakale border crossing into Turkey.
The consulate staff and their families were captured by ISIL militants in Mosul on June 11.