ANKARA: Turkish police swooped on Islamic State suspects in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Friday, barely 10 days ahead of a summit of world leaders, local media reported.
Turkey also deported a group of Moroccans detained on suspicion they were planning to head to Syria to join Islamic State fighters, reports said.
The country, shaken by a string of deadly attacks blamed on IS militants, is on high alert ahead of the Group of 20 gathering on November 15-16 that will bring together a host of leaders including US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Syrian conflict and the international fight against IS are set to top the agenda, particularly after the crash of a Russian plane in Egypt that the US and Britain say was most likely brought down by a bomb.
Turkish police detained 20 people in Antalya, the Dogan news agency reported, adding that the suspects, two of whom are Russians, were “in contact with IS militants in Iraq and in Syria”.
Turkey has been on the hunt for IS extremists since twin bombings on a peace rally in Ankara last month that killed 102 people, the worst such attack in its history.
Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu had said this week that Ankara was planning further military action against the jihadists in the “coming days”, without giving details.
Police in Istanbul also detained 44 Moroccans and their Syrian guide who flew in from Casablanca on Wednesday, after passengers said they might be planning to join IS.
About half have already been deported and the rest are to be expelled on Friday, Dogan said.
Police also caught six people, five of them foreigners, attempting to cross into Syria on Friday, officials said.
Adding to concerns about IS, two sisters aged 18 and 20 have been missing since attending an Islamist training camp in Istanbul late last month, raising fears they have been recruited by the militants.
The government says hundreds of Turks have already joined the extremists in Syria although the actual number could be much higher.
Turkey shares a porous 911-kilometre (566-mile) border with Syria, and is hosting more than 2.2 million refugees from the war.
Turkey initially supported Islamist rebels fighting both Syrian Kurds and President Bashar al-Assad but its policy backfired after the emergence of the brutal Islamic State.
Ankara had long been reluctant to take robust action against the jihadists, but after a deadly bombing in July, Turkey agreed to become a full member of the US-led coalition, allowing the Americans to use a key air base for air strikes in Syria.
Most of Turkey’s own firepower however has been concentrated on Kurdish fighters based in northern Iraq, rupturing a 2013 truce with the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“It is obvious now that the jihadist threat is a very sensitive issue in Ankara, but it is also obvious that PKK remains their highest priority,” a Western diplomatic source told AFP.
The opposition accuses Ankara of colluding with IS — charges rejected by the government which blacklisted the group as a terrorist organisation in 2013.
IS militants have been blamed for three attacks in Turkey since June and police have rounded up dozens of suspects in recent weeks.
Prosecutors said a sleeper cell carried out the Ankara attacks in order to disrupt last weekend’s crucial election, the second in five months.
There were also fears that a cell was plotting another major atrocity, such as hijacking a plane.
The latest crackdown came after Sunday’s election which saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) regain the parliamentary majority it lost in June.
Erdogan has vowed to press ahead with operations against all “terrorists” including Islamic State and Kurdish rebels.