Turkish Consul General of Mosul Yilmaz is welcomed by his relatives as Turkish Prime Hakan Goktepe looks on.
Turkish Consul General of Mosul Yilmaz is welcomed by his relatives as Turkish Prime Hakan Goktepe looks on.Reuters

Since the release of the 46 Turks and three Iraqis by the Islamic State militants, who had kept them hostage for three months, several questions have been raised on how Turkey was able to secure their release. Reports now indicate that Turkey may have secured the release in exchange of key ISIS prisoners.

The prisoner swap theory, which was much debated on social media, was given its first official confirmation of sorts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Discussing the success of the Turkish government in securing the release of the 49 hostages Erdoğan said "such things may be possible," reported Al Arabiya via AP.

He said Israel released 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage. "So you see, it's possible," he added.

Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist in Turkish regional news source Yeni Safak, noted that the rescue operation, which he compared to the Hollywood movie "Black Hawk Down", Turkey had the assistance of its international partners but many secrets of the mission would 'go to the grave' without being revealed.

Selvi, however, noted that it was unlikely that any ISIS 'terrorist' was released by Turkey, though such a possibility existed as even the US had released five Taliban terrorists in exchange for its soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

Turkey has been highly secretive about the means by which it secured the release of its embassy workers from ISIS. President Erdoğan, who has denied paying a ransom has also been vague on whether there was a prisoner swap.

"As to the rest, you probably cannot expect us to publicly divulge what the international agencies do in their business, but the end result is that 49 diplomatic consular staff have been released."

What Turkey did to free its embassy workers and their families has become a subject of speculation. Most feel that it is highly unlikely that the brutal ISIS militants would simply give up such high-value hostages without getting something in return.

Another theory that is widely being discussed in Turkey is that the government provided the ISIS militants 49 tanks in exchange of the 49 prisoners.