Turkey detains almost 800 trying to cross illegally from Syria, army says
ISTANBUL - Reuters
REUTERS photoThe Turkish army said on July 7 it had detained almost 800 people trying to cross illegally from Syria, including three suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after bolstering security in border areas near where the jihadists hold ground.
The military said 768 people had been detained on July 6 alone while trying to cross the border. The three suspected ISIL members were sent to jail in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa after being detained separately on July 2, it said.
Wary of advances by both Syrian Kurdish forces and ISIL in northern Syria, Turkey has sent extra troops and equipment to strengthen parts of its 900-km border as the risk of spillover rises.
Turkey has maintained an open border policy throughout Syria’s conflict, absorbing close to two million refugees, but requires legitimate refugees to pass through checkpoints and be documented. The military did not say why the 768 people had been detained.
Turkey has faced criticism from some Western nations for failing to do more to stop foreign fighters crossing and joining ISIL. In turn, Turkey has argued domestic intelligence agencies in the West need to stop their nationals from being radicalized and traveling to Turkey in the first place.
Ankara has mooted the creation of a “secure zone” on Syrian soil to prevent a new wave of refugees crossing the border, a strategy which would be likely to require a military incursion, but has made clear it will not act alone and has been lobbying for support from the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL.