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Turkish spy chief headed for Erbil, whisper KRG officials

Rumor has it that the head of Turkish intelligence is planning a trip to Erbil, where he would face an uphill struggle to free Turkish operatives allegedly held there and perhaps discourage the upcoming referendum on independence.
Head of Turkey's intelligence service, Hakan Fidan arrives for a press conference on October 10, 2016 in Istanbul.
Putin visits Turkey on October 10 for talks with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pushing forward ambitious joint energy projects as the two sides try to overcome a crisis in ties. / AFP / OZAN KOSE        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey’s spy chief, Hakan Fidan, is planning to travel to the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil this week, part of a mission to push for the release of Turkish operatives who are being held by Kurdish militants and presumably also to seek to delay a referendum on Iraqi Kurdish independence, local officials speaking on strict condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor. They declined to elaborate, and a spokesman for Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) did not return Al-Monitor’s calls for comment.

If the reports are accurate, Fidan faces an uphill struggle on both counts. Officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have assured Turkey that the two operatives, both Turkish nationals who were reportedly captured by rebels with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), would be released this month.

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