Turkish police have detained close to 450 people, including minors, in overnight anti-ISIL raids (February 4-5).
State news agency Anadolu said most of the suspects are foreign nationals.
Spread over six provinces, the operation is Turkey’s biggest round-up in its efforts to thwart the jihadist group. At least 60 suspects were detained in the capital, Ankara, the agency reports.
Officers reportedly seized a number of ‘organisational documents’, a hunting rifle, an unlicenced gun and books written by cleric Fetullah Gulen.
Currently living in exile in the United States, he is now on Turkey’s most-wanted terrorists list. Ankara is demanding his extradition, but has not provided Washington with clear evidence of Gulen’s alleged terrorist activities.
Arrests on the Syrian border
Around 150 people were detained in Şanlıurfa, on the border with Syria.
Separately, Turkey has been carrying out Operation Euphrates Shield along its southern border with Syria since August, 2016. The mission aims to improve security and eradicate the terror threat from ISIL and other militant groups.
Anadolu reports some 33 ISIL militants were ‘neutralised’ in northern Syria between February 4 and 5. The term ‘neutralised’ is usually used by Turkish authorities to mean wounded, killed or captured.
The armed forces hit 259 ISIL targets in the region and destroyed 39 targets, the military announced.
Ahead of the latest arrests, Turkey said some 780 people – 350 of whom are foreigners – remained in detention over suspected connections with ISIL. Some among them have already been convicted.
Since 2014, a series of ISIL-claimed terror attacks has seen Ankara actively crack down on the group.
Most recently, New Year’s shootings at Reina nightclub in Istanbul killed 39 people. On Friday (February 3), police arrested eleven people in connection with the attack.