Kidnapped Turkish Plots in Lebanon Released
Two Turkish pilots that had been kidnapped in Beirut were freed and handed over to Lebanese security officials, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters today. A Turkish Airlines plane which was sent to Lebanon hours earlier is bringing both pilots back to their country. “I have just spoken with them a few moments ago. They are sending greetings to the Turkish people. They are about to depart to Turkey,” Davutoğlu said via Twitter a few moments before his live comments.
The Turkish Airlines pilots were abducted in the Lebanese capital last August to pressure Turkey to step-in to help release nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped by opposition fighters in Syria.
The pilgrim hostages were part of a group of 11 people seized by Syrian rebels.
One of the Lebanese hostage’s families kidnapped the Turkish pilots to press Turkey to help secure the Lebanese hostages’ release.
Their families say the men were religious pilgrims, but their kidnappers accused them of belonging to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Crowds of relatives and friends were already gathered at the airport and near the hostages’ homes to celebrate their return.