Turkey has captured two Russian nationals suspected to be Islamic State (ISIS) militant group members near the Syrian border, according to a report by the state broadcaster TRT Haber on Friday.
The two Russian women believed to be members of ISIS were captured by Turkish authorities reportedly after entering the country illegally.
TRT also reported that the women, who had three children with them, were apprehended in Duruca village in Turkey’s southern border province of Kilis.
The Russian suspects with the initials EK and ES were wanted by Interpol, TRT said, adding they had been handed over to the provincial immigration authorities.
Detention of the two suspected ISIS members came a week after the militant group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, which happened in the course of a raid by United States special forces in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border.
Turkey stepped up operations targeting suspected ISIS members after the body of Baghdadi, who reportedly killed himself during the US raid, was found just a few miles from the country’s border.
“Baghdadi was found not in his traditional areas of eastern Syria or western Iraq, but rather in Idlib province, which has been protected by a dozen Turkish military outposts since early 2018,” Brett McGurk, an ex-US envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, noted in a Washington Post op-ed last week.
The former envoy held forth that Idlib has become “the world’s largest terrorist haven” mainly due to nearly 40,000 foreign fighters that flooded Syria during its civil war that started in 2011 and that “came through Turkey into northwestern Syria.”
“Today, it [Idlib] is largely controlled by al Qaeda’s formal affiliate in Syria, which … enjoys symbiotic relationships with Turkey-backed opposition groups. Now we know the area was hospitable enough for the world’s most-wanted terrorist to camp out with his extended family,” McGurk argued.