Turkish Police Detained 450 IS Suspects in Nationwide Sweep

Turkish police on Sunday detained almost 450 suspected Islamic State group members in nationwide raids just over a month after an attack on an Istanbul nightclub claimed by the jihadists.

Security forces rounded up 448 suspects, the state-run Anadolu news agency said, in Turkey’s biggest police operation against IS since the New Year attack on the Reina nightclub that killed 39.

Among those detained were foreigners and those suspected of planning attacks in Turkey it is reported.

During the operation, 150 suspects, all Syrians, were rounded up in raids on hotels and private homes in Sanliurfa in the southeast, Dogan said.

Another 47 were detained in the nearby city of Gaziantep close to the Syrian border which has a known jihadist presence while 38 were picked up in Hatay, also bordering Syria.

Sixty suspects, mostly foreigners, were detained in four districts in the capital Ankara.

Dozens more arrests were made in provinces ranging from Bursa in the west to Antalya on the Mediterranean and Bingol in the east.

Television footage showed police in body armour battering down a door in a pre-dawn raid.

In the  Aegean city of Izmir, nine people suspected of travelling to and from Syria and planning attacks in the city were detained.

One of the suspects detained in Izmir — a Syrian identified only as E.A. — is said to have been in touch with people smugglers in a bid to help the IS members escape to Europe, Anadolu said.

Eighteen people were detained in Istanbul and the neighbouring province of Kocaeli on suspicion of planning attacks. Another 14 foreigners were due to be deported, including 10 children.

Meanwhile in Eskisehir east of Istanbul, nine people were detained on suspicion of membership of Fateh al-Sham, Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria.

Thirty-nine people, mainly foreigners, were killed on New Year’s night when a gunman went on the rampage inside a plush Istanbul night club.

IS claimed the massacre, its first clear claim for a major attack in Turkey although it had been blamed for several bombings in 2016.

Police detained the suspected attacker, Abdulgadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, on January 16 after more than two weeks on the run and authorities say he has confessed to the massacre.