LONDON: A total of 600 British citizens have been caught trying to enter Syria to join the ISIS and other terrorist groups since 2012, UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond has said.
During a visit to southern Turkey, Mr Hammond hailed closer cooperation between the two countries in preventing these potential terrorists arriving at their destination.
“We’ve stopped about 600 (Britons) in total… The net result is that Turkey has become the key partner when it comes to intercepting the flow of foreign fighters,” he said yesterday.
He added: “Some of them were stopped at the UK border trying to exit and some of them were intercepted on arrival in Istanbul or in transit at points along the way, but a large proportion were picked up by the Turks on the basis of intelligence that we were able to provide.
“What we’ve really seen is a very impressive turnaround by the Turks of short notice information.”
According to the ‘Daily Telegraph’, some individuals have been arrested on arrival at the Turkish airports after the authorities were forewarned while the incoming plane was mid-air.
A few have been picked up barely 45 minutes after British officials tipped off their Turkish counterparts.
Of a total of 1,400 Britons who have tried to travel to Syria since 2012, the latest figure suggests that 40 per cent were stopped.
Those detained by Turkey have been either returned to Britain or held for the offence of trying to cross the Syrian border illegally.
A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The figure includes those stopped in Turkey as well as those stopped leaving the UK.
“Of those stopped in Turkey, some will have been returned, and they become a matter for the Home Office, who will look into it on a case by case basis. Some will be subject to the Turkish judicial system.”