15:05 GMT +321 August 2019
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    This November 20, 2014 photo shows an area controlled by the Islamic State group, past the Qada Azadi roundabout, foreground, in Kobani, Syria.

    At Least 1,200 Turks Fighting Alongside ISIL, Nusra Front in Mideast

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    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)
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    Around 1,200 Turkish citizens are fighting alongside the Islamic State and the Nusra Front jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told local media Friday.

    ANKARA (Sputnik) – Ankara believes that there are about 900 in ISIL, and close to 300 with the Nusra Front, fighting in neighboring Syria and Iraq, the official told the Hurriyet Daily News.

    The official, who spoke with the newspaper on condition of anonymity, added that some 400 Turkish nationals have been killed in clashes while fighting for the jihadists.

    The Foreign Ministry has called for greater international coordination to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Syria through Turkish borders, the official added.

    Research by the New York-based Soufan Group and the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence disagree, estimating that there are less than 500 Turks fighting on the ISIL and Nusra Front’s side in Iraq and Syria.

    "Of course, there are those who tend to believe that we just cooked up [the figures]," the ministry official told the daily.

    Out of an estimated 12,000 foreign fighters said to be embedded with ISIL and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, a vast majority hail from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, with about 3,000 fighters originating in Western countries, according to the watchdogs.

    Ankara has recently stepped up its anti-ISIL campaign in Syria, alongside an unconnected incursion on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, following recent terrorist attacks on Turkish soil.

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    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)

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    Daesh, terrorist, Al-Nusra Front, Turkish foreign ministry, Turkey, Iraq, Syria
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