Turkey's Foreign Ministry sources denied on Monday the allegations that 16 Turkish workers, who were kidnapped by a Shiite militant group in Iraq, were released. The sources added that efforts still continue to secure the safe release of the remaining 16 workers.
The Shiite terrorist group that kidnapped 18 Turkish workers on Sept. 2 released a video early Monday that claimed to show the group had freed all the captives. The video published on the terrorist group's social media account shows the kidnapped workers being released by members of the terrorist group. The Shiite militant group previously freed two of the workers, Necdet Yılmaz and Ercan Özpilavcı, and they were brought to Turkey on Sept. 16.
Previously, the group, calling itself "Furaq al-Mawt" (Death Squad), released a video on Sept. 11 in which the 18 kidnapped Turkish workers were shown reading their names and where they come from, as well as the group's demands. Gunmen seized 18 employees of a major Turkish construction firm, Nurol Holding, on Sept. 2 in the Sadr City area of northern Baghdad where they were working on a football stadium. Men armed with submachine guns and wearing black uniforms and balaclavas stood behind 18 men, said to be the kidnapped Turks in a video posted online. The militants identified themselves as Death Squad in a written message that appeared behind them alongside the words "We are at your service, O Hussein." One of their demands was that Turkey order rebel forces to stop besieging four Shiite villages, including Foah, Zahra, Kafrayyah and Noubboul, in northern Syria. The villages have been surrounded by the Syrian opposition group Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest). The group also wants Turkey to allow aid to be delivered to Shiite regions in Aleppo and Idlib. In the video, the group also demands the cutting of oil reserve exports in northern Iraq through Turkey, along with the withdrawal of Turkish military personnel in Iraq. "If [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his party do not respond, we will crush Turkish interests and their agents in Iraq by the most violent means," the militants said. The group is allegedly linked to Hezbollah in Iraq, indicating the militants are Shiite.
This could also potentially be an attempt to mislead the public. The group's origins are unknown. In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sept. 9, Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said Turkey was monitoring the situation around-the-clock while also urging Iraqi authorities to secure their release as soon as possible.
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