Turkey ‘has plans’ for joint U.S. operation against ISIS
Turkey’s foreign minister on Wednesday said Ankara “has plans” for a joint operation with the United States to end the presence of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants along any part of its border with Syria.
Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu told the state-run news agency Anatolia that ISIS militants still had a presence on some of Turkey’s border with northern Syria.
“We have certain plans to put an end to the control that ISIS is still exercising on a zone of our frontier,” he said, without specifying on the nature of the plans but saying they would be jointly implemented with the United States.
“When these plans are completed, our operations will continue with more and more intensity. You will see this in the days to come,” he added.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with CNN late Tuesday that “we are entering an operation with the Turks” to shut off 98 kilometers (61 miles) of border still not secure from ISIS.
Their comments come amid growing momentum for coordinated international action against ISIS after the Paris attacks last week claimed by the extremist Islamist group which killed 129 and injured 350.
ISIS suspects arrested
Turkish police detained eight ISIS suspects, state media said Wednesday, adding they were planning to sneak into Europe posing as refugees.
Counter-terror police detained the suspects in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport after they flew in from the Moroccan city of Casablanca on Tuesday, the official Anatolia news agency reported.
The police found a hand-written note on one of the suspects detailing a migration route from Istanbul to Germany via Greece, Serbia and Hungary, including smuggler boats across the Mediterranean Sea, as well as several train and bus journeys.
The eight men told police that they were just tourists who had been planning to spend a few days in Istanbul and had booked rooms at a hotel, but no reservations were found under their names.
Turkey is the main launching point for migrants coming to Europe, and currently hosts over two million Syrian refugees.
More than 650,000 migrants and refugees, have reached the Greek islands so far in 2015 using the eastern Mediterranean route, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said earlier this month.
The Paris attacks however threw a security spotlight on the migrant flow, after the discovery at the scene of one of Friday’s attacks of a Syrian passport registered in the Greek island of Leros on Oct. 3.
Turkey was long criticized by its Western allies for failure to take robust action to stem the flow of ISIS militants across its porous border.
But Ankara has stepped security measures in recent months after a series of deadly attacks blamed on the extremists, including a twin suicide bombing in Ankara that killed 102 people last month.
According to official data released to AFP last week, in the first half of 2015 over 700 foreign suspected jihadists were detained and deported from Turkey whereas for all of 2014 the figure was 520.