UNITED NATIONS, September 22 (RIA Novosti) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the release of Turkish citizens on Monday, who had been held captive by the Islamic State (IS) militants since June, the UN press service said in a statement.
"He [Ban Ki-moon] is relieved that, at the end of a three-month ordeal, they are now home safe and sound," the statement said.
Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that 49 Turkish hostages captured from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul in northern Iraq on June 11 had been freed by the jihadist group.
Welcoming the news the UN chief called for an immediate release of all hostages in the region.
"[Ban] reiterates his call for the immediate release of all hostages in the region and reminds parties that kidnapping is a gross violation of human rights and humanitarian law," the statement added.
The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched an offensive in Iraq seizing territories in both countries, proclaiming an Islamic caliphate over its conquered land. The Islamic State has a reputation for extreme cruelty.