Turkish police have arrested four suspected militants for the Islamic State group, Turkish media reported Tuesday. They also confiscated a drone and a number of weapons and accompanying ammunition, all of which were loaded into a car with the militants, who were presumed to be headed to Syria.
Turkish media described the raid as an anti-terror operation. Police had obtained a search warrant prior to raiding the car and questioned its passengers before arresting them. Three of the car's four passengers were foreign, Hurriyet Daily News reported. Police also found a drone, along with two rifle scopes, two night sights for long-barreled weapons, ammunition for Kalashnikovs, bullets, camouflage smocks and bandoliers.
Turkey's role in the battle against the Islamic State group, which controls large swathes of neighboring Syria and Iraq, has changed considerably in recent weeks, following a deadly bombing in mid-July in Suruc, a town in eastern Turkey, that was blamed on militants from the group. Turkey has long been accused of overlooking -- and even condoning -- Islamic State fighters and arms that passed through Turkey's porous border with Syria. The Turkish government sees Kurds -- the world's largest stateless ethnic minority, who have sought greater autonomy within Turkey for decades -- as the greater threat to its security.
At the end of July, Turkish and American officials said they would create an "Islamic State-free" zone in a 60-mile strip along the Turkish border. Under the deal, Turkey granted the United States new access to some of its air bases. This gives the U.S. greater proximity to territory controlled by the Islamic State group, but some concerns remain that Turkey will use the opportunity to target Syrian Kurdish militias, which have been crucial in the U.S.' fight against the Islamic State group.