Counterterrorism operations have stamped out terrorist group Daesh's efforts to restructure itself in Turkey and carry out terror attacks, officials say.
Meeting the press in the capital Ankara yesterday, Interior Ministry spokesperson İsmail Çataklı confirmed that Turkey arrested 225 Daesh suspects between May 1 and June 3 in nationwide operations.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had said last week that there have been "recent activities" by Daesh in Turkey and the authorities were following it.
Çataklı added that they had substantial intelligence that the terrorist group increased its threats against Turkey during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and Ramadan Bayram (Eid al-Fitr) that marks the end of the sacred month.
He said Daesh was trying to regroup its cadres in cities and rural parts of Turkey to plot new attacks. "One of those terrorists was planning an attack in Adana [a southern city] and this suspect, a foreigner, was captured along with another Daesh member he met in [the central city of] Nevşehir on June 1," Çataklı said.
The two suspects had a stolen motorcycle without license plates and had "firearms and a large cache of munitions," he confirmed.
The spokesman said another Daesh cell was busted on June 1 in nationwide operations. The cell was scouting for a place to attack and suspects in the cell rented cars in the southern city of Mersin for that purpose.
Turkish security forces have been involved in a long-running campaign to rid Turkey of Daesh terrorists. The terrorist group is blamed for a string of terror attacks in Turkey that killed dozens of people over the past three years in Istanbul and Ankara as well as cities in the southeast. Military operations in Syria and Iraq led to a rapid decline in Daesh territories and the number of its militants.
Turkey helped the Syrian moderate opposition, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), to regain control of a number of Daesh-controlled towns in an operation in 2016. Foreigners looking to join Daesh in Syria have mostly attempted to use Turkey as their crossing point. Turkey has taken significant measures against foreign Daesh members and has urged Western countries for intelligence cooperation.
According to official figures, some 2,000 people were arrested and 7,000 others deported in operations against Daesh in Turkey, while around 70,000 people were denied entry to Turkey over their suspected links to the terrorist group.Security forces have also foiled at least 10 attack plots. Figures show that some 18,500 suspects are currently being monitored for links to the terrorist group after being identified at airports upon arrival.