Turkish security forces detained 25 suspects from two terrorist groups active in neighboring Syria Thursday in nationwide counterterror operations.
Counterterror police captured 12 suspects in operations against the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), in the western cities of İzmir and Muğla as well as the southern city of Mersin and the capital Ankara. The suspects are accused of recruiting militants to the PYD/YPG, a terrorist faction affiliated with the PKK, and of planning attacks in İzmir, Turkey's third-largest city. Prosecutors say the suspects were arranging trips to Turkey's conflict-ridden neighbor Syria with recruits of the United Freedom Forces (BÖG), a far-left group whose members fight for the YPG in Syria.
Some suspects are accused of plotting bomb attacks in İzmir. The police found propaganda-based material during a search of the suspects' residences. Authorities said that the YPG recruits were trained in Syria and later sent back to Turkey to carry out attacks. Ankara considers the YPG, which serves as the armed wing of a Syrian-Kurdish faction of the PKK terrorist organization. U.S. support for the YPG has soured relations between Ankara and Washington. Turkey occasionally shells YPG positions around Afrin in Syria amid Ankara's concerns that weapons provided by the U.S. allow the YPG to seize more power in the region every day.
In Istanbul, 13 Daesh suspects were captured in counterterror operations across the city's 12 districts. Among those detained were suspects who fought for Daesh in Syria and Iraq and social media users spreading propaganda for the terrorist group. A large cache of money and digital propaganda materials were also seized in operations. Nearly 170 suspects linked to Daesh were arrested across Turkey last month, according to information from security officials. According to figures, 43 of the 168 Daesh suspects were remanded in custody and face trial on a variety of charges.
On May 21, two foreigners were killed in an anti-Daesh operation in Ankara. During the raid, the plans to two buildings were discovered and Governor Ercan Topaca said the terrorists had planned to attack attendees of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) extraordinary congress later that day. Three days earlier, eight suspects allegedly planning to conduct attacks on events in Izmir, Istanbul, Erzurum and Mardin during the May 19 national holiday were arrested, a security official told Anadolu Agency (AA) at the time. Halis Bayancuk, also known as Abu Hanzala, was also arrested earlier this week as part of the investigation carried out by the Sakarya Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. He is accused of leading Daesh supporters in Turkey, an official said under the condition of anonymity.
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