Passage of ISIL fighters through Turkey is the ‘greatest threat’: Turkish FM

Passage of ISIL fighters through Turkey is the ‘greatest threat’: Turkish FM

Passage of ISIL fighters through Turkey is the ‘greatest threat’: Turkish FM

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The passage of foreign fighters through Turkish territory aiming to join the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is the “greatest threat to Turkey,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.

“We have taken serious measures on this issue and will take further measures along the border,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah late on Jan. 18.

His remarks came in reply to a question on claims by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah that Turkey funds and supports ISIL and al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria.

“Nasrallah slanders Turkey while giving support to the cruel state terror of the al-Assad regime. They have together killed 200,000 people,” Çavuşoğlu replied.

“For us, there is no difference between ISIL and al-Assad; ISIL is also a direct threat to us,” he stated.

“It is obvious that ISIL is a cruel terror organization from how they kill people,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Turkey argues airstrikes are not enough to win the struggle against ISIL and a ground operation is also required.

Turkey “insists on an extensive fight against ISIL,” but some circles still accuse Ankara of supporting the jihadist group, he said, describing this as unfair.

Turkey has suffered terror for up to 40 years and there is “no good or bad terrorist group” for it, Çavuşoğlu said, adding that terror has “no religion, no sect, no race. We are against all kinds of terror,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu said there are no “active members of ISIL in Turkey,” but the government has determined the individuals who are aiding the passage of terrorist group members. He added that intelligence reports indicate that some 500-700 Turks have joined ISIL.

Meanwhile, attending the 21st International Junior Diplomats Training Program on Jan. 19, Çavuşoğlu again reiterated that terrorist groups threaten society and stressed the need for “all hands on deck” in the struggle against terrorism.