Islamic State forced 49 mostly Turkish hostages to watch videos of executions carried out by the group, one of the captives said after their release at the weekend.
“They had us watch execution videos to demoralize us, they kept threatening us all the time but never harmed us physically,” Ozturk Yilmaz, the consul-general at the Turkish consulate in Mosul, northern Iraq, told NTV in an interview broadcast yesterday.
Yilmaz said he used his mobile phone to keep in touch with Turkish officials “at least once, sometimes three or five times a day. We were dismantling the phone and hiding with the help of some other friends.”
The militants took 46 Turks and three Iraqis hostage when they swept through Mosul in June. Turkey secured their release on Sept. 20 through “political and diplomatic bargaining,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. Turkish officials said the hostages were constantly monitored via drones and other means.
Islamic State has beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, calling the killings a retaliation for U.S.- led military intervention in Iraq. The al-Qaeda breakaway group is holding another British aid worker, Alan Henning, the U.K. Foreign Office said Sept. 14.
The families of some of the Turkish hostages sacrificed sheep to celebrate their release, according to NTV.
Yilmaz said he lost 14 kilograms (31 pounds) during his captivity. Another captive, a former guard at the consulate, told NTV that they were kept underground most of the time and blindfolded when they were moved. Yilmaz said that happened eight or nine times within Mosul.
On Sept. 19, the captives were driven to Syria in small buses, and the militants waited for a lull in fighting against Kurdish forces in the area before handing them over to Turkish agents. The group crossed the border into Turkey at 5 a.m. on Sept. 20, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
“We didn’t realize that we had been released until we reached the border,” Yilmaz said. “I understood it when I called the prime minister and he said ‘welcome.’”
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