Turkey arrests seven ISIS suspects: media

Western states have repeatedly accused Turkey of not doing enough to halt the flow of jihadists across its 911-kilometre (566-mile) border with Syria. (File photo: Reuters)

Turkish authorities on Wednesday arrested seven men suspected of fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria, state media reported.

The suspects were arrested in raids in the western city of Izmir, southern city of Isparta and in eastern Erzurum province, Anatolia news agency said.

The police seized two pistols and five hunting rifles during the operation, Anatolia added.

The militants are suspected of having been among the ISIS fighters who seized the Kurdish town of Kobane, just inside Syria’s border with Turkey, only to be routed by Kurdish forces in January, Dogan news agency said.

The militants are believed to have then fled back across the border to Turkey, Dogan said.

Western states have repeatedly accused Turkey of not doing enough to halt the flow of jihadists across its 911-kilometre (566-mile) border with Syria.

Turkey fiercely rejects the accusations, saying it is making every effort to secure a long border and in turn has accused the West of not playing its part to shoulder the burden of hosting nearly 2 million refugees from Syria.

In an apparent bid to deflect the criticism Turkish authorities have arrested a number of suspected militants in recent months.

Pro-government newspapers have speculated in recent days that Ankara is planning a military intervention in Syria to create a buffer zone along the border with Turkey, following gains by Kurdish forces against jihadists in the area.

Turkey’s government fears that the growing assertiveness of Kurds in Syria will embolden Turkey’s own 15-million-strong Kurdish minority.

Ankara sought to calm the speculation Tuesday, saying it would not act unilaterally, while reserving the right to protect Turkey’s borders.

Anatolia reported on Wednesday that Turkey had dispatched reinforcements to the southern border province of Kilis, including tanks, anti-aircraft weapons, armored combat vehicles and military personnel.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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