'Hundreds' of British Daesh fighters in Turkey, prompting terror fears in Europe

Iraqi forces are seen flashing the sign for victory in Iraq’s western Anbar province near the Syrian border after retaking it from Daesh jihadists a day earlier (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017

'Hundreds' of British Daesh fighters in Turkey, prompting terror fears in Europe

LONDON: Hundreds of British fighters who joined Daesh are believed to be hiding in Turkey, adding to fears of an increased threat of terror attacks in Europe, according to reports.
Thousands of extremists fled to Turkey after the terror group lost its grip on the strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq this year, The Times of London reported.
Ciwan Xhalil, a Syrian Kurdish intelligence officer who collaborates with Western intelligence agencies over foreign Daesh fighters, told The Times that most British Daesh fighters had fled Syria and gone to Turkey.
“The exodus began after Mosul (in Iraq) fell and continued after (Daesh) lost Raqqa. We have lots of French in our jails and scores of other nationals but we think most of the British have escaped,” he said.
About 850 Britons traveled to join Daesh, of whom about half have returned. About 130 are confirmed dead.
The figure is higher than the 300 returnees to Germany and 271 to France.
The report warned there has also been a surge in the number of women involved in attacks — with nearly a quarter of terror plots in Europe from the start of 2017 to May involving women.
Meanwhile, according to the US-led international coalition fighting the militant group, fewer than 1,000 Daesh fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.
“Due to the commitment of the Coalition and the demonstrated competence of our partners in Iraq and Syria, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 ISIS (Daesh) terrorists in our combined joint area of operations, most of whom are being hunted down in the desert regions in eastern Syria and Western Iraq,” the US-led coalition told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Moreover, British security sources said it is increasingly difficult to leave Turkey and return to Britain without being flagged. Returning terror fighters are stopped and questioned by the MI5 security service and police and will be prosecuted if there is evidence that they fought for the caliphate.
The authorities also deploy covert techniques to track down extremists. American intelligence sources said that the CIA and MI6 were coordinating to track a cadre of foreign Daesh fighters.
Although only three of the 40 attacks in Europe since 2015 have involved foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, those incidents caused more than half the fatalities.
The threat level in Britain remains at “severe,” meaning that further attacks are likely. The country is dealing with one of the worst cases of homegrown radicalization in Europe, and the chief of Britain’s MI5 domestic security service warned in October that the threat of extremist attacks in Britain was at its “highest tempo” in his three-decade career. British security services have foiled almost a dozen attack plots this year.


Turkey's coronavirus death toll hits record for seventh day in a row

Updated 29 November 2020

Turkey's coronavirus death toll hits record for seventh day in a row

ISTANBUL: Turkey's daily COVID-19 death toll hit a record high for a seventh consecutive day on Sunday, with 185 fatalities in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed.
The number of new cases of coronavirus infections, including asymptomatic ones, fell slightly to 29,281. For four months, Turkey only reported symptomatic cases, but since Wednesday it has reported all cases.
The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in March stood at 13,558.