With the G-20 summit due in a week and world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama scheduled to attend, Turkish police have moved against twenty suspected ISIS militants in the southern province of Antalya.
Hurriyet Daily News reports the detainees were said to be in contact with ISIS operatives in Iraq and Syria. Two of them are women and two of them are Russians, suspected of planning to cross the border into Syria from Antalya. The Russians are said to be linked to a married Russian couple detained by Turkish counterterrorist forces a week ago.
The suspects were reportedly examined by doctors and then taken to a local security office for interrogation.
The Turkish government announced plans to “act militarily” against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) this week, following terrorist attacks including a deadly October bombing in Ankara, which killed 102 people.
“Daesh threatens our way of life and security… We have plans to act militarily against them in the coming days. You will see. We should all stand together against this danger,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu at a conference on the future of the Middle East on Thursday. “We will continue our efforts to eliminate all terrorist organizations. We will act in a responsible manner so that the Kurdish region and Iraq can be successful in the fight against terror. This is a very clear message to Iraq and the Kurdish region for a bright future.”
The arrest of suspected ISIS militants in southern Turkey may be presented as part of the government’s effort to get serious about battling the terrorist group, coming soon after equally large operations in Ankara, Istanbul, and along the Syrian border. Some of these militants were reportedly carrying explosives and planning suicide bomb attacks.
Australia’s News.com notes that the arrest of so many ISIS suspects, so close to the upcoming G20 meeting—at which ISIS, the Syrian civil war, and possible ISIS bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt will be discussed—”has caused concern.”
“Turkish authorities yesterday revealed more than 11,000 police officers as well as military personnel on land, sea and in the air,” News.com wrote on Saturday. “The Turkish Presidency Logistics Taskforce will this week also conduct a full dress rehearsal for next weekend.”
Foreign Minister Sinirlioglu is quoted in this story promising more counterterrorist operations in the “coming days.” He said Turkish police had discovered three distinct terror cells, possibly from either ISIS or the Kurdistan Workers Party, and warned one of them “remained at large and planned to hijack a commercial airliner or vessel.”