Turkey detains over 440 people in anti-Islamic State operation

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s anti-terrorism police have detained over 440 people for alleged links to the Islamic State, the state-run agency reported Sunday.

The Anadolu Agency said 60 Islamic State suspects, the vast majority of them foreigners, were taken into custody early Sunday in the capital, Ankara.

A total of 445 people were detained in simultaneous pre-dawn police operations that spanned several cities, including Istanbul and Gaziantep, near the border with Syria, the news agency said.

The largest operation was in the southeast province of Sanliurfa, where police took into custody more than 100 suspects from multiple addresses and found materials relating to the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

Security forces also apprehended nine suspects who were allegedly preparing an attack in the northwestern city of Izmir.

Anadolu did not give the nationalities of all those detained, but 10 minors were among the foreigners detained in Istanbul and the northwestern province of Kocaeli.

Turkey, which last year endured a failed coup attempt and dozens of bloody attacks linked to the Islamic State or Kurdish militants, has been stepping up its anti-terrorism efforts.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a New Year Eve mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people. The militant group claims to have multiple cells in Turkey.

Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance and the U.S-led coalition against the Islamic State. It shares borders with Syria and Iraq, two war-torn nations at the heart of the fight against the Islamic State.

Turkish forces have been deployed in Syria since August with the aim of clearing a border patch of Islamic State militants and Syrian Kurdish fighters that Ankara considers related to its own Kurdish insurgency.

Some of those taken into custody Sunday reportedly were active in conflict zones and engaged in recruitment efforts for the Islamic State, relaying its propaganda over social media.

© 2017 Associated Press


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