Turkey detains over 2,500 ISIL members over three years
ANKARATurkey has captured more than 2,627 members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including 837 foreign nationals, over the past three years, the state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Having added ISIL to the official list of terrorist organizations in 2013, Turkish security forces have since detained 2,627 suspected ISIL members in anti-terror operations.
Some 632 among the 2,627 detained individuals were subsequently arrested and 120 tons of bomb-making material was seized. More than 100 of the arrested suspects were foreign nationals.
In 2013, 230 ISIL members were detained, 152 of whom were of Turkish nationality.
Turkey has been under pressure to step up security against suspected ISIL militants operating in the country, after initial criticism that it acted too slowly to recognize the threat.
Following a meeting with Turkish National Police Chief Celalettin Lekesiz, British Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore took to Twitter to praise bilateral efforts to combat ISIL. “Honor to host DG [Director General] of the Turkish National Police Celalettin Lekesiz for tea. Talked of strong support received from Turkey on foreign fighters and need to continue to work on exchange of information on terrorist threats,” Moore stated on his personal Twitter account on Nov. 30.
He also added that Lekesiz had offered “strong support” in combatting foreign fighters and also exchanging information on terrorist threats.
Moore previously said in an interview with daily Hürriyet on Aug. 10 that Turkey was undertaking important responsibilities in terms of the refugee flow it has received and on halting the flow of foreign fighters bound for Syria.
The U.K. government believed that about 700 U.K. citizens had gone to Syria and that about half that number had returned, he added at the time.
U.K. Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon also told Hürriyet in an interview on Nov. 12 that the U.K. and Turkey were working closely to prevent U.K. nationals from joining the conflict in Syria.
“Disrupting the flow of foreign fighters is a crucial part of the fight against ISIL, so we value greatly the efforts of the Turkish authorities on this matter,” Fallon said.
“Turkey’s role in the counter-ISIL Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group and in the Global Counter Terrorism Forum [GCTF] are also important contributions in bringing the international community together to address these issues,” he added.
Turkey has stepped up counterterrorism activities against ISIL after militants from the group were implicated both in the Suruç bombing and the twin Ankara suicide blasts.
The perpetrator of the suicide bombing attack in Suruç, a district in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, was identified to be an ISIL militant, who detonated himself and lefts dozens of civilians dead and more than 100 injured on July 20.
The suicide bomber of the Ankara twin blasts was also identified to be an ISIL militant, who killed more than 100 dead and hundreds of others wounded outside a train station in the Turkish capital on Oct. 10. The attack in Ankara was the deadliest act of terrorism in Turkey’s history.