Turkey detains 20 IS suspects in Antalya ahead of G20
Turkey has been on the hunt for IS extremists since twin bombings on a peace rally in Ankara on October 10 that killed 102 people and wounded around 500, the worst such attack in the country’s history.
US President Barack Obama is among G20 leaders who will be at the summit in Antalya on November 15-16 where the war in Syria is certain to be high on the agenda.
There was no further information about the Antalya raids and no immediate comment from the prime minister’s office.
Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu had said this week that Ankara was planning further military action against the jihadists, without saying how or where.
“We have plans to act militarily against them in the coming days,” he said on Wednesday in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, describing the IS group as a “clear and present threat”.
Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Thursday that Sinirlioglu did not specifically use the expression “ground operation,” but added: “All options could be on the agenda.”
– Spate of attacks –
The IS group has been blamed for three attacks in Turkey since June when two people were killed at a rally staged by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir just days before a parliamentary election.
Long criticised by its Western allies for not doing enough to stem the rise of the extremist jihadist group, Turkey first launched air strikes against IS targets in Syria after a deadly bombing on a border town in July.
But most of the firepower was concentrated on Kurdish fighters based in northern Iraq, rupturing a 2013 truce between Ankara and the rebels.
Police have also rounded up dozens of IS suspects in recent weeks in raids across the country.
Turkish prosecutors said after the Ankara bombing that a sleeper cell acting on orders from the jihadists in Syria carried out the massive attacks in order to disrupt Sunday’s election, the second in five months.
There were also fears that a cell was plotting another major atrocity, such as hijacking a plane or a vessel.
The latest crackdown comes after Sunday’s election which saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regain the parliamentary majority it lost in June.
Erdogan has vowed to press ahead with operations against all “terrorists” including Islamic State and the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).