Two British extremists were among dozens of prisoners handed back to Islamic State (IS) by the Turkish government in exchange for the release of diplomats, it has been reported.
A London-based newspaper claims Shabazz Suleman, 18, from Buckinghamshire, and a 26-year-old Briton are among as many as 180 fighters traded with IS to secure the release of Turkish consular staff.
Suleman had been a student at the Royal Grammar School, in High Wycombe, which last week released a statement confirming it had been “approached by the relevant authorities” regarding the student.
It said Suleman had travelled to Syria in the summer of 2013 as a member of a convoy that delivered humanitarian aid to Aleppo as part of a Turkish charity.
The Foreign Office is providing consular assistance to his family but there has been no confirmation that he was one of the Turkish government-held prisoners. The two Britons were on a leaked list of names which have been confirmed by the paper’s IS sources.
The diplomats, including 46 Turkish citizens and three local Iraqi staff, were captured five months ago when the extremist group stormed the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu did not provide an explanation for the release of his country’s diplomats last month but did confirm the operation had been led by Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said no ransom had been paid and lauded the successful “covert operation” that led to their release.
Downing Street stressed any decision was “taken entirely by the Turkish authorities”, but David Cameron had seen the reports about the exchange and was aware of it.