Daesh exodus threatens Turkey and the region
ANKARA: The Guardian recently reported that several dozen former Daesh fighters had crossed into southern Turkey in recent weeks, and hundreds more are massed in Syria’s Idlib province waiting to cross.
Although Turkey’s border with Syria is closely monitored, the newspaper reported that they had crossed with the help of smugglers.
As Daesh loses territory in Syria and Iraq, the exodus of its militants and their families is expected to continue, posing serious challenges to Turkey and other countries in the region.
In April, Turkey announced the completion of the first phase of a wall that, when completed, is expected to cover the length of its border with Syria.
Ankara recently adopted an integrated security system for its borders with war-torn countries that includes watchtowers, radars, thermal cameras, unmanned drones and night-vision.
Metin Gurcan, a former military officer and security analyst at the Istanbul Policy Center, said Daesh’s territorial losses in Syria and Iraq have made Turkey an appealing gateway for its fleeing militants.
Last month, Australian police arrested two Daesh suspects who put a homemade bomb in their brother’s luggage, camouflaged as a meat mincer, when he was about to fly from Sydney with Etihad Airways.
Australian authorities said the high-grade explosives used to build the bomb, which was detected by airport security, had been sent to Australia by air cargo from Turkey.
“Ankara and the US-led antiDaesh coalition can’t find an institutional mechanism to coordinate the fight against extremists because they currently lack a trust-based relationship,” Gurcan told Arab News.
This year, Turkish police have further increased efforts to eradicate suspected Daesh cells throughout the country.
According to official figures, Turkey has detained more than 5,000 suspected Daesh militants so far, and has deported some 3,290 foreign fighters from 95 countries.
“There’s an urgent need for effective intelligence-sharing between Turkey and the West to take precautions against possible terror attacks by these militants,” Gurcan said.
Sertac Canalp Korkmaz, a researcher on security studies at ORSAM, a think tank in Ankara, told Arab News: “When these foreign fighters cross Turkish territories, they’ll pose a serious threat to Turkey and to their countries of destination, because they’ve gained significant combat experience and will have a greater capacity for lethal attacks when they return from conflict zones.”
He said: “The security wall that’s being constructed has limited the availability of transit points that could be exploited by Daesh militants.”
A “proactive security policy” is needed to minimize potential threats, Korkmaz added.