Report: Turkey forfeits territory in lieu of Mosul hostages

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Turkey has allegedly forfeited its territory in northern Syria to the self-proclaimed Islamic State in exchange for 49 hostages held in Iraqi city of Mosul, a Turkish newspaper reported.

Taraf daily claimed on Thursday that Ankara decided to relinquish its only territory, the tomb of Suleyman Iah in Syria — the burial place of the grandfather of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire — besides Anatolia to the radical militants who have been holding Turkish hostages, including diplomats and special forces, for more than two months in Mosul. The newspaper argued that Turkey initially offered ransom for the hostages and that the two sides agreed on a land-for-hostages deal.

In recent months, reports have emerged that the Islamic State in Syria and Levant (ISIL) forces in Syria are trying to gain control of the area around the tomb of Suleyman Iah and that the Turkish territory is under threat of attack. Turkey had said it would retaliate in the event of an attack on the tomb in Syria, regardless of the attacker’s allegiances.

Ankara regards the tomb as sovereign Turkish territory under a treaty signed with France in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. About two dozen Turkish Special Forces soldiers guard the tomb permanently.

The report came amid talks that Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu will be chosen as a successor to Turkish President-elect Recep Tayyip ErdoIan. Many criticized the decision to appoint DavutoIlu as a new prime minister due to his failure in foreign policy as well as his inability to rescue the Mosul hostages.

The Taraf report said the government has already notified the Turkish army to withdraw its troops who are guarding the tomb from the territory, arguing that the aance of the ISIL militants pose danger to the lives of the Turkish security services on duty there.

The report claimed that the ISIL initially demanded money and arms from Turkey for the hostages, but later requested to get the Turkish territory in northern Syria.

There was no comment regarding the report from Turkish officials.