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Turkey Rescues Its Pilots in Swap Deal

Turkey’s silent diplomacy yielded results on Oct.19, when it rescued the two Turkish Airlines pilots kidnapped in Beirut on Aug. 9.
Turkish Airlines pilot Murat Agca talks to media at Istanbul's Ataturk airport October 19, 2013. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan personally greeted two kidnapped Turkish pilots when they arrived back in Istanbul on Saturday after two months in captivity in Lebanon. The pair were released earlier under a deal whereby nine Lebanese hostages were freed in Syria and allowed to return home via Turkey. The Turkish pilots had been abducted in retaliation for the snatching of the Lebanese. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY

On Oct. 19, the 71-day captivity of two Turkish Airlines pilots came to an end. Murat Agca and Murat Akpinar were kidnapped in Beirut on Aug. 9 by people who aimed to prod Turkey to increase its efforts for the rescue of nine Lebanese pilgrims, who had been kidnapped in Syria in May 2012. After a complicated negotiation process, a swap deal was made possible, also because of the Syrian regime's cooperation as it agreed to free some female prisoners. 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the two pilots home on Istanbul Ataturk Airport's tarmac, posing for a happy photo with their families. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu tweeted, as Agca and Akpinar were on their way to Turkey: “The success of this process, which our prime minister led, once again proves Turkey's regional importance.”

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