Turkey bans entry to thousands of Syria-bound militants: PM

June 24, 2014 - 6:28:07 pm

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Tuesday said it has banned entry to more than five thousand foreign jihadists suspected of seeking to head to Syria to join radical Islamist groups fighting the Syrian regime.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his Islamic-rooted government was taking "all the measures" to stem the flow of jihadists from abroad, who were "using Turkey as a transit point" to enter war-torn Syria.

"We have banned entry to more than 5,300 people from abroad who were planning to join the radical groups in Syria. We are detaining suspected terrorists and deporting them. We have deported more than 824 people since 2012," Erdogan said during a televised address to EU ambassadors in Ankara.

His comments came amid mounting concerns in Europe about the growing national security threat posed by jihadists returning home from Syria.

A recruitment video posted on YouTube for the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) featuring several young British men has aroused particular concern in London.

Turkey is meanwhile struggling to secure the release of dozens of its citizens kidnapped earlier in June by ISIL in Mosul as they captured swathes of northern Iraq.

Turkey, which backs the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly denied allegations that it is shipping arms to rebels or backing Al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria.

Erdogan said the foreign militants were a threat to Turkey's national security and called for closer cooperation between Ankara and European countries to fight terrorism.

Turkey has a long and porous border with Syria stretching from the Mediterranean to Iraq which has made it the main transit point for foreign rebels seeking to fight the Syrian regime. (AFP)

 

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