Embattled with counterterrorism operations in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group Daesh sees its numbers further dwindling with heightened crackdowns within Turkey. In the past six months, security forces detained 5,402 suspects and arrested 902 in operations while another 146 Daesh militants were "neutralized" in the same period in 838 operations across the country. Since November 2017, Turkey also stopped 5,041 foreigners seeking to join Daesh by crossing into Syria and Iraq through Turkey and sent them back to their countries of origin.
Security forces also foiled 10 attack plots. Figures show some 18,500 suspects were monitored for links to the terrorist group at airports upon their arrival.
Amid fears that Daesh militants who fled Syria could hit Europe and Turkey, authorities have heightened crackdowns on the terrorist group with almost daily operations. In the latest operations, 17 foreigners plotting attacks were detained in Istanbul.
The terrorist group had started targeting Turkey in 2013, the year it was designated as a terrorist group, but it was in 2015 when it really made the headlines with multiple suicide bombings which killed over 100 people in a southeastern town and in the capital Ankara. More attacks followed the next year, including suicide bombings at an Istanbul airport and an attack on an outdoor wedding party in southern Turkey's Gaziantep that killed 58 people.
Among the suspects captured in the country were senior figures of the terrorist group who fled to Turkey from Syria and Iraq or specifically infiltrated into the country to plan attacks. Trials of notorious Daesh members, including a gunman who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub last year, are still underway.
Aiming to stop the Daesh threat from Syria, Turkey has supported the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in a 2016 operation against Daesh-held towns in Syria. With Operation Euphrates Shield, Daesh lost control of towns it held in the north of the conflict-ridden country and was forced to withdraw from positions it held near the Turkish border. In that operation, 2,647 Daesh militants were killed.
Official figures show that Turkey, between 2013 and 2017, deported 5,540 people in its fight against the terrorist group while 53,781 others were banned from entering Turkey to cross into Syria and Iraq to join the group. Foreign fighters make up the majority of the terrorist group.
Although Daesh lost many strongholds in Iraq and Syria, a controversial deal between Daesh militants and Syrian groups linked to the PKK, a major terrorist group that carries out attacks in Turkey, helped their evacuation from Raqqa, Syria. Turkey shares a lengthy border with Syria and struggles to keep itself safe from infiltration despite a giant border wall that is currently under construction.
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