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Turk bid to protect Iraq truckers


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ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkey's government says it is considering an alternative route for its truck drivers bringing goods into neighboring Iraq in an effort to stem kidnappings.

The drivers could be forced to travel through Syria and approach western Iraq, instead of going through northern Iraq, where many kidnappings have taken place, Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday.

A Turkish truck driver taken hostage in Iraq last month was released by his captors Tuesday afternoon, according to a Turkish embassy official. He was abducted while on a drive from Tikrit to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Ten Turkish employees of a construction company, Vinsan, are being held hostage in Iraq. Video of the hostages aired on al-Jazeera last weekend.

The leader of a Turkish transportation group, International Transporters Association, said he was not happy with the government's proposal and demanded it do more to protect truck drivers.

"A Syrian route cannot be sufficient to resolve the matter," Cetin Nuhoglu said.

An estimated 2,000 trucks travel from Turkey to Iraq each day, delivering goods to the U.S. military and Iraqi markets. This year alone, Turkey has exported about $1.2 billion in goods to Iraq.

CNN Correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.


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