Two Turkish pilots taken hostage in retaliation for the kidnapping of a group of Lebanese pilgrims have been freed.
Their release was part of deal and came a day after the nine Lebanese pilgrims were themselves set free.
Those campaigning for the pilgrims, seized by Syrian rebels in May last year, pressed Turkey to use their influence with the rebels to secure the pilgrims’ release.
“Turkey didn’t abduct them, but supported the abduction,” said campaigner Hayat Awali from the al Badr pilgrimage campaign.
“Turkey could have helped release them.”
Now that the hostages have been released families are waiting to be reunited.
Mona Tormos, the wife of one of the Lebanese hostages said, “I am speechless after a year and a half of exhaustion, suffering and false promises.”
The hostage drama reveals the extent to which Syria’s civil war has become further complicated by interwoven cross-border sectarian and religious rivalries.