BREAKING NEWS – According to government sources, anti-terrorism units have arrested over 440 people for alleged links to ISIS in a nation-wide operation. That was the story released earlier today by the state-run Anadolu News Agency and Turkish officials. The news agency report said that 60 ISIS suspects terrorist suspects were taken into custody and that the group was largely made of of so-called foreign fighters.
The roundup took place early Sunday morning in and around the capital city of Ankara according to official sources. The source also said that in total, some 445 people were also detained in several simultaneous predawn operations that took place in several different cities including the site of some of the worst attacks in recent days, Istanbul and Gaziantep. Both cities have been the repeated targets of civilian bombings in the last few months.
Police say the largest operation was conducted in the southeast province of Sanliurfa near the Syrian Border. In that operation, police took captured and took into custody more than 100 suspects from multiple addresses. Authorities say they also recovered a large quantity of materials relating to ISIS militants.
In addition, a security forces spokesperson also said the commando style raid netted nine suspects who were allegedly readying an attack in the northwestern city of Izmir. Anadolu did not give the nationalities of all those detained but there were 10 minors among the foreigners detained in Istanbul and the northwestern province of Kocaeli.
Over the last year, Turkey has endured a failed coup attempt and dozens of bloody attacks which have been linked to ISIS terrorists or Kurdish separatists, as a result, the government has been stepping up its anti-terrorism efforts. This past New Year Eve ISIS claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub which left 39 people murdered. ISIS claims to have several terror cells located inside Turkey.
Turkey is a long time member of the NATO alliance and a major player in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS. Since it shares a long border with both Syria and Iraq, it is an easy target for the terrorist organization. Turkey first deployed forces in Syria last August aimed at clearing a section of border of ISIS militants and Syrian Kurdish fighters that Ankara considers related to its own Kurdish insurgency.
Many of those detained are reportedly active in conflict zones or were actively engaged in recruitment efforts for ISIS and relaying its propaganda over social media.
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