Turkey has slapped a travel ban on more than 12,500 foreign fighters, and deported another 1,200, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, noting that 5,000 people have been put on a blacklist since January, when Ankara strengthened its efforts to stem the flow of jihadists to Syria.
Most of the fighters were determined on the basis of Turkey's own intelligence, not from the information given from source countries of foreign fighters trying to cross into Syria through Turkish territory, Çavuşoğlu said April 10 at a training program for foreign diplomats.
Turkey has bolstered its effort to stem the flow of and deny entry to potential foreign fighters. Turkish leaders frequently state that Ankara is facing unfair accusations over the flow of foreign fighters into Syria even though it has been doing its best to close its borders.
Turkey has long been criticized by the international community for tolerating foreign fighters passing through its territory to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. In the second half of 2014, Turkey increased its intelligence cooperation with European countries, as the former began putting a travel ban on several thousand foreign individuals.
Turkish officials have stressed the failure of European Union countries in halting the travel of foreign fighters and called on them to intensify intelligence sharing with Turkey on the alleged jihadists. Ankara describes the foreign fighters issue as "complicated" and has called on EU countries to stop foreign fighters as they leave their own countries.
Fighters have traveled to Syria from more than 90 countries, including at least 3,400 from Western states, as well as more than 150 Americans, according to the latest estimates.
The number of foreign fighters that have been placed on Turkish exclusion lists is 12,519, while the number of those deported was 1,154, according to figures provided by Çavuşoğlu on March 17.
The number of foreign fighters on which Turkey slapped a travel ban was around 7,000 people in early 2015, but the figures are on the increase as the cooperation between Turkey and source countries grows, Turkish officials previously told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey issued a ban for 7,833 people and deported around 1,056, former Interior Minister Efkan Ala said in January. - Istanbul