13 HTS terrorists caught in anti-terror raids
Turkish police have arrested more than a dozen suspects believed to have links with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group in several cities across the country
THROUGH simultaneous operations carried out in Istanbul, Ankara and Adana provinces on Saturday, at least 13 members of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group were arrested over charges of recruiting, funneling money to the group and participating in attacks in Syria.
AT LEAST 13 members of the terrorist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) were arrested in counterterror operations in Turkey’s Istanbul, Ankara and Adana on Saturday.
The terrorists were captured during simultaneous operations conducted across the three provinces. Three more militants remain at large, the police said.
The arrested suspects were accused of aiding the HTS with recruiting and money laundering, as well as participating in attacks across Syria.
The HTS and the moderate National Liberation Front (NLF) have been clashing intermittently across northwestern Syria’s Idlib and in Hama’s rural countryside since late December.
The clashes started in Aleppo, spreading to Idlib’s north and southeast, including the western countryside of Aleppo province, the town of Atmeh, the tent area in Idlib and the northwestern Hama province.
The two groups announced a cease-fire Thursday and agreed to remove trenches and ditches dug by both sides across the city. The groups also agreed to exchange prisoners captured during the clashes.
Turkey designated the HTS as a terrorist group in August. It is the most powerful terrorist alliance in Idlib, the last major opposition enclave outside the Bashar Assad regime’s control. After the fall of Aleppo in November 2016, dozens of opposition groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and the HTS, squeezed into Idlib.
Turkish police have intensified raids against Daesh, the HTS and PKK terrorist groups across the country in recent operations. Daesh, which is blamed for a string of terror attacks in Turkey over the past three years, saw a decline in membership with militants fleeing Syria and Iraq where it once controlled large swathes of land. Turkey helped the Syrian moderate opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in a 2016 operation in war-torn Syria to regain control of Daesh-controlled towns. During Operation Euphrates Shield, the Turkish military cleared the northern Syrian towns of Jarablus, Azaz, al-Bab, Dabiq and al-Rai from the terrorist group. Following Operation Euphrates Shield, which ended in March 2017, Turkey has also put forward efforts to bring life back to normal and enable Syrians in Turkey to return to their homes.
Foreigners looking to join Daesh and other extremist groups in Syria have mostly attempted to use Turkey as their crossing point. According to official figures, some 2,000 people were arrested and 7,000 others were 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.
Turkish police have increased raids against the PKK, Daesh and HTS terrorist groups.