Istanbul, Sep 3 () - Turkey has slapped a ban on 20,000 suspected foreign fighters, preventing them from heading to Syria and Iraq, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said, two days after one soldier was killed another went missing in a suspected attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the Syrian border with Kilis.
Turkey has deported more than 2,100 foreign fighters to their countries, Bilgiç told reporters, adding that more than 3,700 had been subjected to interrogation at special risk analysis units at airports. Some 1,450 of them were sent back after being declared suspects, he added.
Turkey has long been criticized by the international community for tolerating foreign fighters passing through its territory to join ISIL in Syria.
In response, Turkish officials have stressed the failure of European Union countries to halt the travel of foreign fighters and called on them to intensify intelligence sharing with Turkey on alleged jihadists. Ankara describes the foreign fighter issue as “complicated” while calling on EU countries to stop foreign fighters as they leave their own countries.
The statement came a day after a Turkish soldier died and another went missing on Sept. 1 following cross-border fire from ISIL-held territory in neighboring Syria, local officials said.