Turkish defense minister says foreign fighters ‘common enemy’
WASHINGTONTurkey has deported over 1,100 foreign fighters aiming to join Islamic jihadists in Iraq and Syria, as it sees them as the “common enemy,” Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said during an anti-terrorism ministerial meeting in Washington.
“When we receive timely and useful intelligence, we are able to stop or deport them,” Anadolu Agency quoted Yılmaz as saying. “Foreign fighters are our common enemy.”
Yılmaz spoke at a meeting in Washington that focused on the evolving foreign terrorist fighter threat, which took place on the sidelines of a White House summit on countering violent extremism.
Yılmaz said Turkey has deported 1,112 foreigners who were attempting to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), updating the figure last provided as 1,065 by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Feb. 4.
Yılmaz said 27 percent of those who are on Turkey’s “no entry list” are from European and North American countries, while 46 percent are from North Africa and the Middle East, while 23 percent are from other regions.
A group of ministers convened on the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism to discuss the foreign terrorist fighter threat.
“The session focused on how to intensify efforts to share and use information about would-be jihadists to disrupt and prevent potential terrorist activity regionally and internationally,” the U.S. Department of State said in a statement released after the meeting on Feb. 18.
“While the summit seeks to enhance efforts to counter violent extremism broadly, participants recognized that measures must also be taken to address the exigent threats posed by those who are already radicalized and traveling to and from conflict zones,” it said.
Participants also agreed to strengthen information sharing on foreign fighters and discussed the need to reconvene in September 2015 in New York to take stock of progress in meeting the resolution’s obligations, the statement also added.