Turkish police have detained 18 foreign nationals suspected of having ties to the Daesh terrorist group in an operation in the capital Ankara, reports said Monday.
The suspects were identified as Iraqi and Syrian nationals, who have been in contact with the terrorists in conflict zones, Demirören News Agency (DHA) reported.
Police are still searching for two other suspects as part of the operation.
Although the terrorist group has been largely defeated in Iraq and Syria, its presence still poses a threat, as individuals following its ideology encourage others to carry out violence. European analysts warn that Daesh attacks carried out by isolated individuals who are not under the watch of intelligence services have become more common.
Turkey recently detained Mahmut Özden, who is considered Daesh's “Turkish emir.” Özden had reportedly been receiving orders from Iraq and Syria and had been planning to carry out attacks using groups of 10-12 followers.
Turkey recognized Daesh as a terrorist group in 2013 and since then has suffered numerous attacks at the hands of the organization including four armed assaults, seven bombings and 10 suicide bombings resulting in the death of 315 with hundreds more injured.
In response, Turkey launched military and police operations domestically and abroad, capturing top Daesh members in counterterrorism efforts at home and in Syria.
Turkish intelligence played a key role in the death of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by detaining and extraditing one of his aides to Iraq, who then provided U.S. authorities with critical information in locating him.
According to Interior Ministry figures, at least 2,000 people were arrested and 7,000 others deported in operations against Daesh in Turkey in the past few years, while around 70,000 people have been denied entry into the country over their suspected links to the terrorist group.