Turkish security forces detained in Istanbul on Friday 31 people suspected of links to ISIS. Anti-terror units also carried out raids in several of the city’s neighborhoods after the prosecutor’s office
issued arrest warrants for 41 people.
The remaining 10 suspects could not immediately be found, and were being sought after their homes were searched.
At the same time, the Turkish authorities imposed a social media blackout. For several hours, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook were blocked across the country after ISIS released a video showing two Turkish soldiers captured in Syria’s al-Bab being burned alive.
The 19-minute video, showing two uniformed men being hauled from a cage before being bound and torched, was posted on jihadist websites and supposedly shot in in northern Syria’s Aleppo province.
Speaking in Turkish, the killer of the two men criticizes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calls for “destruction to be sowed” in Turkey.
The video was also published just hours after Erdogan vowed no let-up in the ongoing Syria campaign.
“Our struggle is not an ordinary struggle,” he said.
“We could not stay silent against those that threaten our country, and we are doing what is necessary,” he added.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Ankara warned of security risks for their citizens.
“As we approach the end of 2016, U.S. citizens should be mindful of this when deciding to attend public gatherings for Holiday and New Year’s Eve celebrations,” it said.
“U.S. Mission Turkey reminds U.S. citizens that extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to conduct attacks throughout Turkey in areas where U.S. citizens and expatriates reside or frequent,” it stated.
“U.S. citizens are encouraged to review the Europe Travel Alert and reminded to be aware of their immediate surroundings. Avoid large crowds or crowded places when possible, especially in locations where Westerners, tourists, and expatriates are known to frequent, including but not limited to restaurants, commercial centers, places of worship, and transportation hubs,” said the statement issued by the embassy.
“U.S. citizens are reminded to review personal security plans, ensure communication connectivity, and to monitor local news for breaking events. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” it added.