World Bulletin / News Desk
Four French journalists were found by Turkish soldiers on the border with Syria on Saturday after being kidnapped by the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria last June.
Journalists Nicolas Henin, Pierre Torres, Edouard Elias and Didier Francois were found in Sanliurfa province with their hands and eyes bound, Dogan News Agency said.
Francois, a veteran war correspondent working for Europe 1 radio, and Elias, a photographer, were abducted in early June on their way to Aleppo. Henin, who was working for Le Point magazine and Torres, reporting for French-German television channel Arte, were taken later that month.
An unknown group brought the journalists to the Turkish border last night, the news agency reported. They will be taken to hospital then handed over to French officials, it said.
France's President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault had long been calling for the journalists' release.
Hollande said the four were in "good health, in spite of the very gruelling conditions of their captivity." They will be taken to France in the coming hours, he said in a statement.
The ISIL, originally starting off as Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq, broke off from Al-Qaeda when ISIL commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi disobeyed the orders of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahri to pull out of Syria.
Zawahri had designated affiliate Nusra Front to fight in Syria under the command of al-Baghdadi's former right-hand man Abu Muhammad al-Golani.
Instead of pulling out of Syria, the ISIL turned their guns on the Nusra Front as well as other Syrian opposition forces including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and local Turkmen and Kurdish groups.
The ISIL has also been hostile to neighboring country Turkey, making threats to attack the Turkish base at Aleppo's Suleiman Shah tomb. This prompted the Turkish authorities to consider carrying out airstrikes against ISIL targets in northern Syria, with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and others accusing the ISIL of being Assad's 'backstage partner'.
Last month, militants from the ISIL opened fire and killed Turkish security forces in Turkey's south-eastern Nigde province when officers attempted to stop the vehicle they were travelling in.Last Mod: 19 Nisan 2014, 12:51