In 2019, Turkey carried out a strong fight to eradicate the presence of Daesh terrorists within the country and near its borders by arresting 2,820 suspects and imprisoning 457, including senior figures, in counterterrorism operations against the group. In both domestic and cross-border operations, many documents, weapons and armaments belonging to the terrorist group were also seized.
In January, 132 suspects were arrested and 36 of them, including the head of Konya province, were imprisoned in domestic operations. In an operation conducted in northwestern Bursa province, 12 Daesh terrorists, including two most-wanted figures by France, were caught.
In February, 212 suspects, including senior foreign figures, were arrested. Many documents and digital materials were seized during the search in the suspects' residences. Fifteen of the 212 suspects were imprisoned, and 22 more terrorists were killed during anti-terror operations within the month.
Imprisoned Daesh members included four terrorists, one from the red category of the country's most-wanted list, caught near the Syrian border and two most-wanted terrorists by Interpol caught in Bursa.
The Interior Ministry's most-wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red marking the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and gray, depending on the sensitivity of their criminal activity.
Some 217 more suspects were arrested in March, and 14 of them were imprisoned. A Syrian senior figure arrested in Bursa was among those imprisoned this month.
During operations in April, 254 suspects were arrested, and 48 members were imprisoned. Thirty-two suspects plotting attacks in the capital Ankara and southern Hayat province were among those caught.
In May, 224 suspects were arrested, and 17 members were imprisoned. A senior figure codenamed "Abu M" was arrested in the southern province of Osmaniye and imprisoned. In the southern Adana province, four members in charge of weapons and bombs for the group were caught. During the month, many other senior figures were also sentenced to long prison terms.
In June's operations, 206 suspects were arrested, and 77 of them were imprisoned. It was revealed that two suspects caught in Adana illegally crossed the Syrian border and plotted a bomb attack.
A senior figure codenamed "Sebhen," who conducted some operations for the group in Iraq, was also caught in central Kayseri province.
In July, two Russian women wanted by Interpol on a red alert were caught near the Syrian border, and three French women were caught when they were trying to enter Turkey by crossing the Syrian border. The group's head figure in Adana was also imprisoned that month.
August witnessed the arrest of 245 Daesh suspects, while 15 were imprisoned. Turkish security forces raided a bomb workshop belonging to the group in northern Syria's al-Bab. In the operation, 80 improvised explosive devices, a ton of explosive materials, 833 electrical detonators, 300 batteries and 480 materials that can be used in the production of improvised explosive devices were seized.
In September, 120 suspects were arrested in Istanbul, İzmir and Gazintep, and 35 members, including senior figures, were imprisoned.
October's operations set a new record when 410 suspects were arrested, and 40 of them were imprisoned. In a total of 26 operations against Daesh members plotting bomb attacks targeting the Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations, 100 suspects were caught in 21 provinces.
In November, 280 suspects were arrested and 80 of them were imprisoned. November was also the time when Ankara launched the process of deporting foreign terrorists to their countries of origin. Since then, more than 150 Daesh members have been sent back to their countries of origin.
In December, 333 suspects, including senior figure M.E., were arrested. Between Dec. 30-31, a total of 184 suspects plotting terror attacks on New Year's Eve were arrested in 15 provinces.
There are still more than 1,000 foreign Daesh members being held in Turkish prisons, with nearly 300 having been detained over the course of Turkey's current anti-terror operation in northern Syria. The arrests include relatives of Daesh members.
The issue of the handling of Daesh members and their families detained in Syria – including foreign members of the terror group – has been controversial, with Turkey arguing that foreign-born terrorists should be repatriated to their countries of origin, while several European countries have refused, saying the terrorists have been stripped of their citizenship.
Ankara had previously criticized European countries for refusing to take their citizens back by revoking their citizenship, saying that Turkey would send them back to their home countries regardless of their citizenship status.
Although the 1961 New York Convention made it illegal to leave people stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified the agreement, with recent cases triggering a number of prolonged legal battles. The U.K. alone has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining terrorist groups abroad.
Turkey has deported more than 5,000 Daesh suspects and 3,290 foreign terrorists from 95 different countries in recent years while dismantling terror cells and safe houses providing logistical assistance to the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq or plotting attacks inside the country.
The country's efforts against Daesh made it a primary target for the terrorist group, which carried out numerous gun and bomb attacks targeting security forces and civilians, including the country's deadliest terror attack, which killed 102 people and wounded 400 others in a twin suicide bombing at a rally in the capital Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015.
As part of Turkey's Operation Peace Spring, launched on Oct. 9, the country has fought to clear northern Syria in the area east of the Euphrates river of terrorist elements, while also making sure Daesh prisoners there remain in detention.
Turkey has taken measures against foreign fighters since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. According to judicial sources, over 76,000 people have been banned from entering the country, and over 7,000 linked to terrorist groups or fugitives have been deported.
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