Turkey arrests dozens of ISIL suspects in raids across country

The arrests were made across 37 provinces amid drive by Turkey’s security forces ahead of New Year celebrations.

Members of Turkish Police special forces secure an area near the interior ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, Turkey in October [File: Cagla Gurdogan/Reuters]

Turkey has announced it has arrested 189 people suspected of having ties to the ISIL (ISIS) armed group as the government continues to detain people across the country.

Turkey’s interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, said on social media platform X on Saturday that the suspects were arrested as part of “Operation Heroes-38”, which took place simultaneously in 37 provinces.

The detentions come amid a drive by Turkey’s security forces ahead of New Year festivities, although some also view it as part of a political push ahead of local elections due in March.

Analysts say that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is keen to win back control of Istanbul, Ankara and other major economic hubs that his AK Party has lost.

Yerlikaya had said on Friday that the detentions had thwarted planned attacks on churches and synagogues in Istanbul.

According to Turkish state news agency Anadolu, the suspects included three alleged senior ISIL fighters. It added that plans also included an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Ankara.

Despite the group having been largely defeated, some ISIL fighters remain in hiding in remote areas of Syria and Iraq, from which they continue to carry out attacks.

Turkey continues to be targeted and has been hit by a string of deadly bombings. An attack in Istanbul on January 1, 2017, killed 39 people in a nightclub during New Year celebrations.

The detentions come a week after police rounded up 304 suspected ISIL fighters in simultaneous raids across Turkey, in a similar security operation before the New Year.

Turkish authorities have also ramped up operations against Kurdish fighters in recent weeks, after they detonated a bomb near government buildings in Ankara on October 1.

“For the peace, unity and solidarity of our nation, we will not tolerate any terrorists,” Yerlikaya said on X.

“We will continue our fight uninterruptedly with the superior efforts of our security forces.”

Source: News Agencies