The masked gunmen who kidnapped 16 Turkish construction workers from their job site in Baghdad at the beginning of September have released a video of their hostages, showing them alive and well, and they claimed that the captives will be released soon.
Originally, 18 workers were abducted from the site of a new sports complex in Baghdad, but two of them have already been freed. In the video, one of the remaining captives reads a statement that says they have been treated well. Nano News reports that the video shows the hostages were each given a Koran and an envelope full of cash by their captors.
“We hope on this holy day of Eid al-Adha that Erdogan will not repeat [his actions] and will respect the innocent people of Iraq and Syria,” said the statement read by the hostage in the video.
Vice News explains this is a reference to the kidnappers’ demands that Shiite civilians be rescued from a village under siege by Sunni rebel forces in Syria. Four days ago, the U.N. helped arrange a cease-fire agreement in the area.
The kidnappers originally had a list of demands for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that included “stopping Turkish fighters from going into Iraq, blocking the flow of ‘stolen oil’ from Kurdistan, and ending attacks on Shia villages in Syria,” according to Vice News.
The masked gunmen are generally described as members of an Iraqi Shiite militia, apparently related to the Iran-backed Ketaeb Hezbollah, which ended up in a gun battle with Iraqi troops sent to rescue the hostages shortly after their abduction. The kidnappers call themselves the “Death Squad,” and hang that name on signs behind their prisoners in each video release.