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Turkish journalists released by Syria

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Reporter Adem ozkose, left, and cameraman Hamit Coskun, right, are said to be in good health [Reuters]Two Turkish journalists who were detained for two months in Syria arrived in Tehran following mediation by Iran, the Turkish foreign minister has announced.

Hamit Coskun, a cameraman, and reporter Adem Ozkose, of the newspaper Milat, entered Syria in early March to film a documentary on the crackdown on dissent in the country.

In remarks on his Twitter account, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said that his government was sending a plane to bring them home.

Following the journalists' arrival in the Iranian capital on Saturday, Ozkose said: "We are here with IHH [Istanbul-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation] officials. Hamit is also doing well. We are waiting for the day we will return to Turkey.

"We are thankful for everyone who has been praying for us. Hopefully, we will return home with prayers," he said.

The two men were last seen on March 9 near the opposition stronghold of Idlib, in the northwest near the border with Turkey.

'Prisoners of war'

The Turkish news agency Anatolia, quoting local Syrian sources and witnesses, reported that the two men were arrested by a pro-government armed group and then handed over to Syrian intelligence.
 
Last month, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, accused the Damascus government of jailing the journalists.

"Right now, two Turkish journalists are still in the hands of the Syrians, practically in a position of prisoners of war," he said at the time. Erdogan demanded that Syria "respond to this immediately".

Ankara, a former ally of Damascus, has called on the thousands of Turks who reside in Syria to leave the country.

More than 11,000 people have died in the unrest that began in March 2011, according to aid groups.

Erdogan has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.


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