Turkish General Staff announced in a statement on its official website on May 19 that its Border Corps captured 690 people illegally crossing into Turkey through its border with Syria .
The statement said that two people who illegally attempted to cross the border from Turkey to Syria were also captured.
The number of people detained by the army in a single day seems to be unusual, considering that Turkey hosts a huge number of Syrian refugees.
Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers with the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which also hosts 300,000 Iraqi refugees in addition to the 1.7 million Syrian refugees.
Gokhan Cetinsaya, head adviser to Turkish prime minister, said “Turkey has implemented a travel ban on more than 14,000 people and deported more than 1,300 foreign fighters. We have done our best to get after foreign fighters,” speaking at the fifth annual conference of SETA DC [Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research] in Washington, DC.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has previously made similar remarks. He said, “There are foreign terrorist fighters coming from 90 countries to join ISIS through Turkey. They are also a threat to us. We captured and deported many foreign terrorists.”
Between 10,000 to 15,000 foreign fighters are reported to have joined with Syrian opposition groups and ISIS since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2012, according to United Nations Human Rights investigators.
Philip Breedlove, the Commander of US European Command and the 17th Supreme Allied Commander of Europe (SACEUR) of NATO’s Allied Command Operations, also commented on the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.
He said he has seen no evidence that Turkey is allowing foreign fighters into Syria.
Turkey was previously accused by some Western officials of not enforcing enough border controls on its 400 kilometer long border with Syria to prevent the entry of foreigners crossing into the country to join militant groups.