Turkish military units captured a total of 961 jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) on the border with Syria throughout 2015, according to intelligence official, who said the detained IS members carried passports issued by 57 different countries.
The attack carried out in Istanbul on Jan. 12 by an IS suicide bomber who illegally entered Turkey from Syria has raised questions over whether security measures taken along the border were effective in stopping such infiltrations to and from Syria.
Intelligence officials speaking to daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity admitted that even strict measures may fail to stop the illegal movement of migrants as well as IS members. However, as a result of measures taken to strengthen border security in 2015, Turkish land forces were able to capture 961 foreign IS members from 57 different countries.
Moving to Turkey to commit terrorist acts
In their testimonies, some of the detained jihadists claimed that they had fled IS’s oppression in Syria and Iraq, some said they had been trained in IS camps in Syria, and others said they had arrived in Turkey to launch attacks. The materials captured with these jihadists last year included one rocket launcher, one infantry rifle, 11 automatic rifles, and one pistol with related ammunition, as well as computers, tablets, and cash money.
According to officials, detained IS members overwhelmingly opted to cross into Turkey through the Elbeyli district of Kilis province on the Syrian border.
The United States has long been demanding that Ankara completely seals its border with Syria in order to halt key IS supply channels.