ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey has now detained nearly 750 suspects in a police operation against the Islamic State group, authorities said Monday.
Anti-terrorism police launched the security operation against people with alleged links to IS early Sunday, conducting simultaneous raids in 29 provinces, including Istanbul, Ankara and the border provinces of Gaziantep and Sanliurfa.
The Interior Ministry released a statement Monday saying that 748 people have been detained in the police sweep, but did not give their nationalities. In addition, 72 other suspects were detained last week, it said.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said police seized IS documents, digital material and six firearms during the raids.
Anadolu, citing police sources, said the IS was "searching" for ways to carry out a "sensational attack" in Turkey, and was actively engaged in propaganda in order to recruit fighters. It said the raids targeted suspects believed to be in contact with IS operatives in conflict zones.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey was determined to "bring to their knees" IS and other terror organizations active in the country by blocking them from recruiting new fighters.
"We will get results," Kurtulmus added.
Turkey in the last year has suffered dozens of deadly attacks linked to IS or Kurdish militants, and has been stepping up its anti-terrorism efforts.
The Islamic State group, which took responsibility for a New Year's mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people, claims to have multiple cells in Turkey.
The accused perpetrator of the nightclub attack, an Uzbek national who reportedly trained in Afghanistan, was detained in Istanbul two weeks after the assault.
Officials hoped his questioning would lead to valuable information about IS operations and cells inside Turkey, but it wasn't immediately known if the major raid was in any way linked to his arrest.