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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Türkiye arrests hundreds for alleged ISIS links

The government has stepped up counterterrorism operations since the Kurdish PKK took credit for an October bombing

Turkish police and counterterrorism squads arrested 304 people suspected of ties to the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday.

The arrests took place simultaneously across 32 provinces as part of ‘Operation Heroes-34’, he said, with most of the suspects apprehended in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir.

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Yerlikaya’s post included footage showing heavily armed authorities kicking in doors and handcuffing men whose faces were blurred out. The individuals’ names have not been released as of Friday.

We will not allow any terrorists to open their eyes, for the peace and unity of our people. We will continue our battle with the intense efforts of our security forces,” the official wrote.

The government has intensified its antiterrorist operations in the last several months, following a bombing outside government buildings in Ankara in October that was attributed to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group in Türkiye. The blast killed a civilian and injured two police officers and resulted in 90 arrests of suspected group members.

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While IS has waned in influence in recent years since losing the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, it has continued to conduct scattered strikes on both countries and has claimed responsibility for several destructive attacks in Türkiye, including a 2017 nightclub bombing that killed 39 people.

In May, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the group’s suspected leader, Abu al-Husseini al-Qurashi, had been killed in a Turkish national intelligence operation in Syria.

Last year, Turkish security forces arrested an IS commander code-named Abu Zeyd, described by the UN Security Council as “one of the senior executives of the [IS] terrorist organization.”