Turkey launched anti-IS swoop after security threats force US embassy to close

Turkey launched anti-IS swoop after security threats force US embassy to close
2 min read
05 March, 2018
Turkey has arrested 12 suspected IS militants after the US embassy in Ankara closed due to security threats.
The US embassy in Turkey has closed due to a security threat [Getty]

Turkey has detained 12 suspects and issued arrest warrants for 20 more in a crackdown against the Islamic State group, which comes after a security threat caused the US embassy in Ankara to close.

Foreigners suspected of recruiting members for IS were among those arrested, Turkish state media said, with the suspects allegedly in contact with those in "conflict zones".

The US embassy was closed on Monday with the state department citing a "security threat". 

On its website, the US embassy in Ankara urged Americans to "avoid large crowds" and "keep a low profile".

The US mission has been targeted by militants before, including in a 2013 suicide bomb attack by a far-left group.

Europe and the US have been concerned that with the collapse of IS in Iraq and Syria, militants flee over the border to Turkey, hiding among civilians.

The Ankara governor's office said in a statement it had taken "extra security measures" after US sources provided Turkish intelligence with information on possible plans for terror attacks against the US embassy and areas in Ankara where Americans live.

Hundreds have died in attacks in Turkey over the past three years, mostly carried out by IS or Kurdish militants.

The last attack which IS claimed came at a New Year's party between just after midnight 2017, when a gunman stormed the elite Istanbul Reina nightclub killing 39 people.

Turkish police have carried out a number of raids against suspected IS cells in the country, including swoops that saw 29 foreigners detained over alleged links to the group.

Relations between Turkey and the US have been strained following Washington's support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which has been heavily involved the war against IS in Syria.

Ankara views the YPG as a terror group and linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party who have launched numerous attacks in Turkey.

Turkish forces launched an operation against the YPG in the Syrian border region of Afrin late January, but the US has called on Turkey to show restraint in the offensive.