A group of eight Turkish soldiers who were kidnapped by Kurdish rebels have been freed in northern Iraq. It is two weeks since the troops were seized near Turkey’s border with Iraq. At least 12 of their comrades were killed.
Their liberation comes after the Iraqi government, under pressure from Ankara, vowed to hunt down Kurdish fighters behind cross-border raids into Turkey.
The troops were flown back home from the Iraqi city of Erbil.
A spokesman for the Kurdish regional government in Iraq said the release came after collaboration with Baghdad and other parties.
“They worked hard, actually, to get in touch with people who were responsible and, at the end, their efforts succeeded,” he said.
The move should ease public pressure on the Turkish government to send soldiers into Iraq. It has massed troops at the border in readiness to root the rebels out.
Washington has urged its NATO ally not to carry out a major offensive. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold crucial talks with US President George W. Bush in Washington tomorrow.