Monday 16 July 2018

Turks expel '3,300 foreign jihadis' after police sweep

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Dean Gray in Ankara

Turkey has deported more than 3,300 foreigners suspected of links to jihadi groups, particularly Isil militants, and another 41,000 foreigners have been barred from entering the country as part of its fight against the militant group, a top official said yesterday.

Turkish profiling teams have also interviewed 9,500 people upon their arrival in Turkey, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters. Some 2,000 of them were denied entry as a result.

Around 2,770 suspects, including 1,232 foreigners, have been caught in police sweeps and 954 of them are being prosecuted, Mr Kalin said.

He didn't give further details. Turkish officials have refused to provide a breakdown of the jihadi suspects by nationality or give details on the countries they have been deported back to.

Separately, Turkey's state-news agency, citing unnamed military sources, said close to 900 alleged Isil militants have been killed since January in Turkish artillery and air strikes against the group in Syria.

The agency said 492 of the militants were killed in air raids while another 370 were killed by artillery fire. The agency didn't specify how the figures were obtained and it wasn't possible to verify them independently.

Turkey, long accused of turning a blind eye to the extremists crossing into Syria, has now taken a larger role in the fight against Isil, opening a key air base in southern Turkey to the US-led coalition fighting the extremists and reinforcing its border to prevent infiltrations.

Four deadly bomb attacks in Turkey since July have been blamed on Isil.

Meanwhile, Turkey's cabinet met yesterday to discuss new measures to try to stop intensified rocket barrages on its frontier by Isil militants in Syria.

Rockets killed two people on Sunday in the Turkish border city of Kilis, where refugees from Syria's war outnumber locals, raising to 17 the death toll there from such attacks this year, 'Hurriyet' newspaper reported yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan travelled to Kilis on Sunday after the first volley struck, and was meeting with officials in the governor's office when another bombardment sent a rocket crashing into the courtyard of a mosque about 100 metres away.

"Unfortunately, there is a power vacuum across our borders," Mr Akdogan said. "Terrorist organisations run wild."

The border area is the site of frequent battles by Isil, US-backed Kurdish fighters and other rebels fighting to depose President Bashar al-Assad. Isil and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front are excluded from a brittle two-month Syrian truce.

Irish Independent

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