Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday the release of 12 Egyptians, who were arrested in Turkey on charges of attempting to join the “Islamic State” (IS).
Turkish authorities arrested 23 people, including an Egyptian family of 12, in the southern Turkish city of Adana Sunday for allegedly attempting to cross into Syria to join the militant group.
Three minors were among those Egyptians arrested near the border with Syria, according to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s statement.
Following the arrest, Egypt demanded information from Turkish authorities regarding the case and the charges against its national citizens, stating that it would request extradition of those arrested.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry aide Hisham El–Nakib said in a statement Tuesday that a Turkish court issued an order to release the Egyptian citizens and refer them to the Office of Foreigners and Immigration.
El-Nakib said the Egyptian Consulate in Istanbul is closely following the proceedings to ensure the rapid implementation of the extradition decision.
The Egyptians were detained with a group of Russians and Turkish nationals, all of whom are suspected of joining IS. According to the Turkish Anadolu agency, police seized two pump-action guns and numerous pro-IS digital material during the arrest.
Many IS recruits cross the Turkish borders to join the militant group, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.
According to Turkish local media, the Turkish police have detained more than 2,700 people from 89 countries for alleged connection to IS.
IS recruits and militants are not the only ones to traverse the Turkey-Syria border illegally since migrants and refugees increasingly turn toward non-sanctioned measures to flee fighting Syria, according to BBC.
As the Syrian civil war has developed over the past five years, Turkey—in its determination to see Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad ousted as much as in its efforts to curtail Kurdish forces fighting the Al-Assad and other rebel groups—supported rebel groups, offering its territory as a transit route for fighters and weapons.
The arrest came two days before Turkey was hit by a terrorist attack in Istabul’s Sultanahmet tourist district Tuesday, leaving ten people dead and 15 others injured. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a Syrian suicide bomber is believed to be behind the attack.
No information was revealed about the future status of the extradited Egyptians and whether they will face a trial upon their arrival to Egypt.
In 2015, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced the passage of Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law that stipulated capital punishment for whoever establishes, organises, or directs a terrorist group.