The Turkish intelligence agency has issued a warning for the police and gendarmerie about Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) members who have retreated from Kobane in northern Syria and crossed into Turkey.
The jihadist militants could be working on armed or bombing attacks in Ankara and Istanbul against the diplomatic missions of the countries involved in the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition, according to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
Kurdish forces recaptured Kobane from ISIL militants on Jan. 26 after fighting for more than four months since the initial attack in September 2014. The air support of the U.S.-led coalition forces and peshmerga crossing to Kobane through Turkey were also effective in this victory.
On Feb. 3, MİT shared a written notification with the police and gendarmerie. The intelligence service warned some 3,000 ISIL members from Syria and Iraq are currently in the region and aim to cross into Turkey particularly to Hatay, Adana, Ankara and Istanbul.
Some, including leaders of the group that are responsible for planning attacks, have already entered Turkey and are residing in cell houses according to the information.
Some Syrian and Palestinian citizens – aged between 17-25 – have entered Turkey undercover as refugees and are planning to travel to Europe through Bulgaria in order to attack anti-ISIL coalition member countries, according to the MİT notice.
The intelligence service warned determining ISIL members’ identities and locations is a difficult task.
An area on the Turkish-Syrian border in the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa has been declared a “prohibited military zone” following the warning from the Turkish intelligence service.
The Şanlıurfa Governor’s Office has recently made a statement regarding the prohibited military zone, saying the ban was for the security of citizens and to avoid threats.
Following the warning, a bomb detonated by remote control wounded three policemen on Feb. 13 near Suruç.
Turkey has long been criticized by the international community for tolerating foreign fighters passing through its territory to join ISIL in Syria. In the second half of 2014, Turkey increased its intelligence cooperation with European countries, as Turkey began putting a travel ban on several thousand foreign individuals.
Turkey had deported 1,056 foreigners and put a travel ban on 7,833 as part of its efforts to stop the recruitment of jihadists in Syria and Iraq, the MİT’s then-chief Hakan Fidan told a gathering of Turkish ambassadors in January.
Fidan resigned from his post on Feb. 7 to run for parliament in the ranks of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the general elections scheduled for June 7.