ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish authorities detained 31 people on Friday suspected of links to Islamic State, broadcaster NTV said, as clashes between Turkish soldiers and the jihadist group intensified in northern Syria.
Turkey issued arrest warrants for 41 people in Istanbul for “being members of an armed terrorist organization”, NTV said. The remaining 10 suspects could not immediately be found, and were being sought after their homes were searched.
Turkey launched a military incursion into Syria on Aug. 24 in support of Syrian rebels to try to push Islamic State away from the border area, and has frequently carried out raids on suspected jihadist safe-houses in Istanbul and other cities.
Defence Minister Fikri Isik told parliament on Thursday that 35 Turkish soldiers had been killed since the start of operation Euphrates Shield, and 1,005 Islamic State militants had been “neutralized”.
Isik said 16 Turkish soldiers had been killed in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab in recent attacks by Islamic State, as the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have been besieging the Islamic State-held town for weeks.