Turkey transferred numerous people from Turkic countries to Syria

The majority of ISIS jihadists who have surrendered to SDF in al-Baghouz are from Turkic countries.

In recent weeks, thousands of ISIS jihadists have surrendered to or been arrested by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the last ISIS-occupied zone in northeast Syrian region of al-Baghouz. The composition of the captured jihadists is striking. The majority of them come from Turkey as well as Turkic countries, such as Turkmenistan, East Turkestan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan.

The Central Asia - Turkey – Syria route

The majority of them joined the ISIS together with their families. They all used the same route over Turkey. From there they were taken to Syria with the help of smuggling networks. Their stations in Syria are also known.

Latest route through Idlib and al-Bab

While the route of most of the jihadists who had joined the ISIS before 2015 went through Akçakale-Girê Spî (Tal Abyad) and Kilis-Jarablus, most of the jihadists who joined the terrorist organization in the following period took the path through Al-Rai (Çobanbey). Most of those recruited during the past one and a half years confess having travelled via al-Bab and Idlib.

They were sent to Syria

It is striking that the jihadists from Turkic countries refrain from speaking about the smuggling networks that systematically enabled their crossing into Syria via Turkey. The majority of the surrendering jihadists say that they simply received a residence permit in Turkey and were sent to Syria at the beginning of the Syrian war.

"In Syria there is everything ..."

Asked why they came to Syria or what they were promised regarding Syria, most jihadists say, "We were told that there was work, land, property and everything else. The terrorists said they faced difficult conditions in Turkey due to high cost of living, and that they were attracted by heading to Syria afterwards.

A politics inherited from Ottoman period

The Turkish state has transferred so many people from Turkic states to Syria that Turkey is thought to be pursuing an updated version of the “settlement policy” inherited from the Ottoman times. With the beginning of the war in Syria, Turkey’s treatment of the territory from Aleppo to Mosul and Kirkuk as its own territory is a reflection of this policy.

First settlement, then occupation

Since the beginning of the Syrian war, Turkey has not masked its ambitions to annex parts of Syria. The Turkish state occupied Idlib, Afrin, Azaz, Jarablus and al-Bab, a very large piece of Syrian territory. Then many people, especially from Turkic countries, were settled there. This policy is commented as a reflection of the “first settlement, then occupation” policy.

The reason for transfer from Turkic countries

Political observers describe the background to the settlement of so many people and their families from the Turkic countries as “intention to ensure the ISIS’ domination of the entire region, then to occupy the region under the pretext of fighting ISIS, as in Jarablus, al-Bab and Azaz, and ultimately to seize control over the region by means of those settled from Turkish countries”.

SDF foiled the plans

This plan of the Turkish state was foiled first by the defeat inflicted on ISIS by the YPG/YPJ in Kobanê, followed by continued blows delivered to ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and liberation of several regions in North and East Syria from ISIS.

After the Turkish state saw that ISIS was going to suffer a severe defeat in Kobanê, the National Security Council held its longest session in the history of the Republic of Turkey on October 30, 2014, and declared a comprehensive war on the Kurds.