Turkey puts travel ban on 15,000 foreign fighters
In this photo released on May 4, 2015, by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, ISIL militants pass by a convoy in Tel Abyad town, northeast Syria. AP PhotoTurkey has put a travel ban to Turkey on 15,000 suspected foreign fighters heading to Syria and Iraq, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on July 15, as Ankara ramps up measures to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat.
Turkey has so far deported more than 1,500 foreign fighters to their countries, Bilgiç told reporters, adding that more than 1,200 have been sent back after being determined at special risk analysis units at airports.
Bilgiç did not elaborate on media reports that British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, the jihadist killer of U.S. journalist James Foley, recently crossed from Syria to Turkey, but stressed that Ankara is in close cooperation with the British authorities.
Meanwhile, he also said the troubled train-equip program will continue to evolve “according to the field conditions in Syria.”
On the issue that only a limited number of Syrian opposition fighters have been able to participate in the training program so far, Bilgiç said this was the result of a “serious and disciplined elimination process.” He vowed that the number of participants will increase in the coming period and the project is due to continue for three years.
Bilgiç did not confirm reports that the trained Syrian rebels have crossed the border into Syria.
Washington and Ankara are continuing talks on enhancing cooperation in the struggle against ISIL but have not signed any agreement yet, he also noted.