High-level Turkish officials speaking anonymously have claimed that Turkish security and intelligence organizations are dealing heavy blows to Islamic State cells and networks in the country.
The Turks have been rounding up foreign fighters who, according to their security organizations were plotting further terrorist attacks inside the country.
“Since the New Year’s attack by IS in Istanbul which took 39 lives, Turkey has been dealing heavy blows to this extremist organization,” the official said. “Turkey is part of the international anti-IS coalition. We are very determined as always and continue to fight against IS and all other terrorist organizations.”
Last week, Turkish security forces stormed a suspected IS cell in the Anatolian province of Konya, killing at least five IS fighters.
In recent weeks,Turkish special police forces have detained a total of 233 IS suspects in 29 provinces, according to Turkish media reports.
Separately, in early July, Turkish security forces also detained 29 suspected IS members in Istanbul.
The majority of the suspects, who were detained in raids carried out across the country, were foreign nationals and were allegedly preparing to stage attacks in Turkey, according to Turkish media reports.
Turkey’s interior ministry recently published a report listing the number of foreign nationals in IS ranks in the country. Tunisians top the list followed by citizens of Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, France, Russia and Belgium.
The same report said foreign fighters who arrive in Turkey to join IS try to cross into the war zones of Syria and Iraq.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently claimed that Turkey has deported 5,000 people suspected of having links to terrorist organizations, banned more than 50,000 people from entering the country, and cleared the border region of IS fighters.
Yesugay Aksakal, a former law enforcement official and counterterrorism expert, told VOA that following a series of security operations across Turkey, IS cells have been dismantled and that the terror group’s ability to wage attacks has been considerably diminished.
“Turkey also shares intelligence with Western countries. This relationship is independent of political relations. Intelligence cooperation helps prevent violent terror acts in different countries,” Aksakal said.
The US has praised Turkey’s work on clearing out the cells of Islamic State terrorists and reiterated that the Turkish government has been staunch allies of the US since the days of the Korean War.
However, the Turks didn’t mention nor did the US of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, who the Turks have branded a terrorist organization. They are closed aligned with the Kurdish forces that the US has been arming in Syria. It has been a particularly sticky point between Washington and Ankara.
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