People holding Turkish national flags, wait on January 15, 2016 for Turkish President at the site of the suicide bombing blamed on the Islamic State (IS) group that killed 10 German tourists on January 12, 2016, in the city's tourist hub of Sultanahmet in Istanbul.
Turkish ground forces pounded Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria after this suicide attack, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on January 14, 2016, in a significant escalation of Ankara's fight against the group. / AFP / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
ANKARA — Turkish government officials said that security forces have caught nearly 1,000 fighters belonging to the jihadist Islamic State, and that of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). the suspects came from 57 different countries into Turkish territory.
ISIS suspects were traveling to and from neighboring Syria.
Officials said that Chinese nationals topped the list with more than 300 ISIL fighters. The jihadist fighters belong to the Muslim Uighur minority of China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Russian nationals came second, with about 100 suspects, most of whom . Most of them are Muslim Chechen fighters.
Palestinians ranked third in the list of ISIS suspects, with over 80 fighters caught.
There were also 63 fighters from Turkmenistan, 57 from Afghanistan and 44 from Indonesia. Fighters include nationals of Trinidad Tobago and the Maldives.
Others carried South Korean, Australian, German, French and British passports.
Officials said two US citizens were among the ISIS fighters caught in Turkey in 2015.
In 2015, Turkey allowed the US-led coalition to use its Incirlik airbase for airstrikes against ISIS strongholds in Syria. Turkey also joined the allied campaign with its bombers and artillery.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.