Turkey kills 200 ISIL militants in Iraq, Syria: Turkish PM
AA PhotoTurkey killed 200 militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in cross-border operations after an ISIL suicide bomber slaughtered 10 German tourists in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet Square on Jan. 12, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.
Turkey fired 500 cannon shots at ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria, killing 200 militants over the past 48 hours, Davutoğlu announced in an address to Turkish ambassadors gathered for an annual conference in Ankara.
“Every attack against Turkey’s guests will be punished,” Davutoğlu added.
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala also addressed the ambassadors and announced that Turkey had so far expelled some 2,896 suspects from 92 countries.
“We have expelled 2,896 people from 92 countries until today. We denied entry to 35,700 individuals from 124 countries.” Ala said.
The figures demonstrate the success of Turkey’s intelligence and security measures, the minister argued, while accusing some countries of failing to fulfill their responsibilities.
Ala underlined the role that countries of origin must play in order to stem the flow of foreign fighters from Europe to Syria.
“A foreign fighter sets off from a European country, hoping to cross the border into Syria via Turkey. Why don’t you stop them while they are still in Europe? Why don’t you fulfill your responsibility?” the minister asked, while also urging the ambassadors to have updated numbers on how much their host countries collaborate.
Turkey itself has often been criticized by Western countries for failing cooperate adequately in the fight against ISIL jihadists in neighboring territories.
However, the country has stepped up its crackdown on ISIL militants in Turkey and increased its involvement in the anti-ISIL coalition by opening up its İncirlik airbase and starting to conduct airstrikes of its own.
Some 40 suspected ISIL militants were detained on Jan. 14 during operations in the provinces of Bursa, Balıkesir, Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep. The Jan. 14 detentions increased the total number of ISIL militants taken under custody since the Jan. 12 blast to 109.
Turkey detained dozens of people with suspected links to ISIL, including three Russian citizens, in the wake of the deadly attack that mainly targeted tourists.
According to reports, one of the three Russian citizens was arrested on Jan. 14 for transporting people from Russia to ISIL territory.
Identified as Aidar Suleimanov by TASS News Agency, the man has reportedly been residing outside Russia since he left the country on July 26, 2003.
The agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson Maria Zakharova and reported that Suleimanov was on Interpol’s international wanted list.
“On Aug. 10, 2015, he [Suleimanov] was charged in absentia by Tatarstan’s authorities with involvement in IS [ISIL] and recruiting terrorists for this organization. After that, on Nov. 25, 2015, Suleimanov was put on Interpol’s international wanted list,” Zakharova was quoted as saying.