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Report: as many as 1,000 Turks fighting among ISIS

The New York Times cited ISIS’s ‘ideological appeal’ as one reason why the Turks are joining the group

Published: Updated:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is attracting a steady stream of recruits among Turkish youth and an estimated 1,000 have already joined the militant group, the New York Times reported Monday, citing Turkish media reports and government officials in Ankara.

The report cited "the group's ideological appeal" and the "money it pays fighters from its flush coffers" as the main reasons why Turkish youth are joining ISIS.

On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the New York Times for using his picture in the article.

“A newspaper used a photo yesterday, showing us leaving the Hacı Bayram Mosque [in Ankara]. They used this photo inside a story about ISIL. With the lightest expression, this is shamelessness, sordidness, ignobleness,” Erdoğan said while addressing the Chamber of Turkish Tradesmen, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“We are the country that paid the heaviest price while fighting terrorism,” referring to Ankara's decades-old war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Although Turkey is ruled by an Islamist-rooted political party which for the past decade has adopted political stances favorable to Islamist regime in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in the Gaza strip, Turks recruited by ISIS say they identify more with the radical extremist system of the ISIS, according to the New York Times report.

After U.S. President announced last week plans to lead a military campaign against ISIS, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said the group had between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey has said it would not take part in the military campaign against the group in fear over the fate of 49 Turkish hostages being held by ISIS since June.

But Erdogan said this week that the military was working on plans to establish a "buffer zone" against ISIS militants.

"The armed forces are working [on plans]. They will bring them to us. We will decide if it is necessary," Erdogan reportedly told Hurriyet daily and other media.

Erdogan reportedly made the comment to a group of reporters on board his plane while he was returning from Qatar.