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

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

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.

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