Turkey has captured and deported 830 citizens of European countries attempting to cross into Syria to fight with the Islamist jihadists over the past two years.
Turkey has established specialist anti-terror teams focusing on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, who have seized large swathes of territory across neighboring Syria and Iraq.
In the past two years, Turkey has captured 830 European citizens who attempted to enter Syria via Turkey to join ISIL. Turkey also filed search warrants for 2,000 people who are thought to have joined the jihadist ISIL militants.
European countries have recently started to share information with Turkey about jihadist militants suspected of entering Syria through Turkey. Several European states, including Germany, Britain, France, Holland and Belgium, have reportedly shared with Turkey information about 4,700 people via Interpol.
Turkey has shared this list with its intelligence and anti-terror units, as well as its security forces on the borders, in a bid to halt potential jihadists.
Anti-terror teams and intelligence units have focused on border-crossings, airports, and bus and train terminals, while new teams have been established at border-crossing points.
Teams were assigned to the Sabiha Gökçen Airport and Atatürk Airport, both of which are located in Istanbul, in May.
A total of 240 passengers who entered Turkey via these two airports have been stopped by these units on suspicion of joining ISIL. After detailed investigations and interviews with the passengers, it was established that a majority came from European countries. Some 56 of these passengers were deported to their country of origin on suspicion of being a member of ISIL, while the rest were released.
It is claimed that ISIL has two training camps in the village of Atmeh in northern Syria, just across the border from Turkey, and it is thought that a majority of those aiming to join ISIL pass to Athmeh via Turkey.
The security forces in Turkey’s border units have been informed about this information and border security measures have been strengthened in this area. The border units have also been warned that these people often move alongside smugglers in the area.
Around 1,000 Turkish citizens are thought to have joined the ISIL militants fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to anti-terror and intelligence units.