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ISIS Release of Turkish Diplomats Raises Questions

ISIS released 49 hostages Saturday. They are Turkish diplomatic officials, family members and three Iraqi workers who have been held since June when they were seized at the Turkish Embassy in Mosul.

Turkey says no ransom was paid and the rescue was not a military operation. It says it knew where the hostages were kept through electronic tracking and intelligence.

The Turkish General Counsel, one of the hostages, says they were almost killed by U.S. airstrikes, which killed two of their guards outside and wounded some inside. [More...]

Another hostage from the consulate told NTV that the bombing was continuous. "It hit us. I was trapped under debris. Glass had sticked into my head. They told that two [militants] were killed outside," the unnamed man said.

Several experts are doubting Turkey's account of the release, particularly that no concessions were made to ISIS.

Several ISIS supporters on Twitter say it was a prisoner exchange, and one of the prisoners released to ISIS was the wife of Hajji Baker, the deceased ISIS military commander and former Baathist and colonel in Saddam Hussein's army. (His real name is Samir Abd Mouhammad al-Khleifawi. He was killed at his home in a shootout, reportedly by Liwa al-Tawhid, of the Islamic Front, in January, 2014. His wife was wounded and taken into custody.)

In any event, the release of the hostages removes an obstacle to Turkey's "robust" participation in the U.S. coalition against ISIS. Turkey also opened its borders yesterday to about 60,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS in the Kobane area. Still, I don't see Turkey being anything other than a lackluster partner.

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