Turkey Arrests 45 IS Recruits

Turkey Arrests 45 IS RecruitsTurkey Arrests 45 IS Recruits

Turkish security forces said on Sunday they had detained 45 foreign nationals over the previous three days seeking to cross into Syria to join Islamic State from the southeastern city of Gaziantep, Dogan news agency reported on Sunday.

The detentions mark a stepping up of pressure on IS by the Turkish authorities after the arrest of 21 suspected members of the group in Istanbul and elsewhere on Friday, Middle East Eye reported.

Gaziantep has long been seen as a staging post for IS recruits who travel to the city by bus after flying from their countries to Istanbul. They then make the short illegal journey over the border to Syria.

Dogan said 25 foreign nationals, mainly citizens of Tajikistan, had been arrested on Sunday alone at a Gaziantep bus station.

It said police units had been working intensively at the bus station since Friday and had in total detained 45 people who wanted to cross into Syria to join IS. Many would-be IS militants had also brought their families with them, it added.

The suspects have undergone health checks and are being interrogated, after which they will likely be deported.

Western states have repeatedly accused Turkey of not doing enough to halt the flow of militants across its 911-km border with Syria.

Turkey fiercely rejects the accusation, saying it is making every effort to secure the border. In turn, it has accused the West of not playing its part to shoulder the burden of hosting 1.8 million refugees from Syria.