Istanbul (AFP) – Istanbul police have detained 62 foreigners suspected of having links to the Islamic State group in overnight raids, Turkish media reported Friday.
Police have launched almost daily operations against IS cells across the country following concerns hundreds of alleged IS members have crossed into Turkey from Syria.
The suspects were detained during raids on 12 addresses in eight districts of Istanbul, the privately-owned news agency Dogan said.
They are suspected of providing financial support to fighters in “conflict zones”, with the authorities opening deportation proceedings against them, it said.
Earlier this month, Dogan said nearly 800 alleged IS members had illegally crossed into Turkey from Syria, though it did not say over what period.
Police detained 634 IS suspects last month, according to interior ministry figures.
Over the past two years, Turkey has suffered a series of attacks blamed on IS, one of which targeted a popular Istanbul nightclub during New Year celebrations, leaving 39 people dead.
IS gunman Abdulgadir Masharipov, who was born in Uzbekistan and confessed to the attack, will go on trial this month.
There are concerns that those foreigners who have fought in Syria or Iraq will pose security risks on their return home as IS loses significant territory in the two countries.
At least 5,600 people, residents of 33 countries, have returned home, the Soufan Centre, a nonprofit security analysis group, said in October.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday claimed Turkey had stopped a total of 50,000 “foreign fighters” although he did not say over what period.This figure is believed to include those who have been blocked at Turkish airports.
He also said Turkey had caught 5,000 IS suspects.