Turkey remains a hotbed of ISIS terror stories, following its controversial hostage exchange deal with the terror outfit plus international media reports that IS has a significant presence and recruiting network in the country.
Turkey's President Recep Erdogan has always firmly denied the IS presence in the country. But now his government is on the back foot after a spokesman would not deny that Turkey is developing formal relations with the extremist organization following ISIS announcing that it will soon open a 'consulate' in Istanbul.
The so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) intends to unveil its first diplomatic mission in Istanbul in order to provide consular services for all who wish to join the extremist group in Iraq, reported Turkish daily Aydinlikas saying.
The announcement will be seen as another blow to Erdogan's poker-faced stance that IS has no network, official or otherwise, or support base in the country – following an expose by the New York Times which found an IS enclave in Istanbul.
Abu-Omar Al-Tunisi, the ISIS de facto head of foreign relations issued a statement, saying that the Islamic Caliphate is determined to launch its first diplomatic mission in a friendly and Muslim country. He said ISIS "hopes" that the bilateral relations with Ankara will witness more developments under the newly-elected president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
ISIS also claims that its consulate in Istanbul will pay the hospital bills of all wounded Islamist militants who traveled to turkey to receive medical treatment.
CHP (Republican People's Party) , a leading Turkish opposition party issued a communique condemning the alleged Turkish government decision to allow ISIS to open a legal diplomatic office in Çankaya - the central and elegant metropolitan district of the city of Istanbul.
The Turkish government spokesperson said on Sunday in a press conference that nearly 50 Islamist merciless detainees including a family of a prominent warlord were set free in a swap deal and in return, all Turkish hostages were released and reunited with their families. But when pushed on the subject of the consulate, his media training let him down flat. The government spokesman reiterated that he is not authorized to neither confirm nor reject reports about the probable opening of ISIS consulate in Istanbul.
The Turkish president said in an interview with state media that he firmly dismissed many reports alleging that his government is keen to establish a formal relation with ISIS, lashing out at the opposition.
" We shouldn't be remiss in understanding the great and risky mission our intelligence service accomplished in a meticulous prison exchange deal , thus we are sorry for those corrupt politicians criticizing us for negotiating with militants for the sake of securing the release of our brave diplomats" said the populist Turkish leader during Sunday night interview with TRT.
Currently Turkey's stand on IS is confusing as the President has made many indications in recent days that his army is capable, if not willing, to advance into Northern Syria to fight IS on the battlefield. Just a few days ago he also indicated to Lebanon's PM that he would revert a previous decision to pull out of helping the Lebanese government in negotiating the release of hostages held my extremist groups.
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