Fevzi Kızılkoyun – ANKARA
Two militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who are responsible for ordering many deadly attacks in Turkey may have been part of the group evacuated from Syria’s Raqqa as part of a deal between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the jihadist group.
The SDF, which is dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), announced on Oct. 17 that it had liberated Raqqa from ISIL.
However, the BBC later reported that a deal was struck between the SDF and ISIL to help thousands of jihadist militants and their families escape from Raqqa along with their weapons and ammunition.
According to information obtained by daily Hürriyet, the evacuated jihadists may have included two ISIL militants sought by Turkey with a red notice, with one being behind several attacks that resulted in the deaths of more than 140 people in Turkey.
İlhami Balı, ISIL’s so-called Turkey “emir,” was allegedly allowed to leave Raqqa and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Similarly, the leader of the ISIL cell called “Dokumacılar” in the southeastern province of Adıyaman, Mustafa Dokumacı, reportedly left the city as part of the deal and his location also remains a mystery.
Turkish authorities have been watching the developments regarding Raqqa closely due to the YPG’s links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and possible jihadist infiltrations into the country.
Turkish “emirs” and “sheikhs” of ISIL are being sought in order to prevent any threat against Turkey and intelligence units have prepared a report regarding possible jihadist activities in the region.
“ISIL’s Turkish citizen emirs, who received weapons and explosive trainings, could escape to other regions or countries, or they could infiltrate into Turkey and stage attacks against Turkey and Turkish security forces,” an official Turkish intelligence notice reportedly read. It added that Balı and Dokumacı, for whom rewards of 4 million Turkish Liras are offered for their capture, were determined to be in Raqqa before the SDF offensive.
Intelligence units also said that no information was present regarding Balı and Dokumacı after the SDF captured Raqqa.
Balı was determined to be the mastermind behind the twin bombings in Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015, the Suruç bombing in southeastern Şanlıurfa in July 2015, the attack at a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally in southeastern Diyarbakır in June 2015, the killing of a Turkish soldier on the Syria border, and the kidnapping of another soldier in the same incident.
Dokumacı’s name, meanwhile, hit headlines after it was determined that he formed a cell in Adıyaman and recruited militants for ISIL, while also giving jihadists weapons and explosives training.
Sheikh Abdurrahman Alagöz and his brother Yunus Emre Alagöz, who carried out the Suruç and Ankara bombings, are also from the “Dokumacılar” cell.
In addition to Balı and Dokumacı, there are reportedly other ISIL “emirs” of Turkish origin among the jihadists evacuated from Raqqa.
“These people may have been dispersed to different regions of Syria and could enter Turkey via illegal means,” the intelligence report read, adding that additional security measures must now be taken on the border.