Sadr calls for release of 18 Turkish hostages in Iraq

Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has called for release of 18 Turkish hostages who were kidnapped in Baghdad

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Moqtada al-Sadr, the head of a powerful Shiite movement in Iraq, has criticized the kidnapping of 18 Turkish workers and engineers, and called for their release.

The message was announced after top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s similar declaration, related to release of the Turkish employees who worked for a Turkish construction company, owned by Nurol Holding, to built a new sport complex in Habibiya, northeast of Baghdad. 

Shiite leader indicates that he is ready to collaborate with the government rescuing the Turkish hostages and he says, “In my name and the name of all lovers of peace and Islam, I demand their release no matter the political or financial motives or other conflicts, and regardless of who the kidnapper was.”

Sadr's opinions influence masses in Iraq and they are to be followed by thousands of Shiite fighters.

Iraqi officials announced on Friday that Iraqi security forces clashed with a Shiite militia suspecting to hold the Turkish abductees in the area. During the clash with the militia a soldier died and three soldiers injured.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said that he was doing everything he can to save the kidnapped workers while Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu thanked his Iraqi counterpart for the efforts of Iraqi security forces in saving the workers.

According to an unclear video recording which involved the kidnapped Turkish workers, Turkish hostages were seen with Shiite slogans and icons on Friday.

Chief executive officer of the construction company, Ugur Dogan, confirmed the Turkish workers' appearance in the video record.

On September 2, 18 Turkish citizens were kidnapped in Shi'ite district of Habibiya, Baghdad, based on a statement released by Nurol Holding which is the employer of the kidnapped workers and engineers.

The kidnappers reportedly attacked the construction site all of a sudden on Wednesday, while the workers were sleeping in their container.

TRTWorld and agencies