Four Russian nationals have reportedly been deported from Turkey after trying to illegally cross the border into Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group, Russian news sites reported on March 20, citing Turkey's DHA news agency.
The four Russians were detained by Turkish police officers near the Turkish border town of Kilis, the reports said.
The Russians were later deported via Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, according to the reports.
No further details about the detained Russians, including their names and which Russian republic they had come from, was provided.
The Russian Embassy in Ankara was reported to be verifying the information, suggesting that it had not been informed about any deportations.
If Russian nationals were deported from Turkey after trying to join the IS group, they will likely be detained upon arrival in the Russian Federation.
The reports of the deportations -- which spread quickly in the Russian media even though the news has not yet been confirmed by Russian consular officials in Turkey -- come amid escalating fears in the Russian Federation about the threat to domestic security posed by the Islamic State group. That threat includes the radicalization of Russian nationals and the spread of IS ideology, as well as the security challenges posed by militants who return to the Russian Federation after fighting in Syria and Iraq.
The head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Aleksandr Bortnikov, told reporters in Washington, D.C., last month that the FSB believes there are around 1,700 Russian nationals currently fighting with militant groups in Syria and Iraq.
Bortnikov, who spoke on the sidelines of the Obama administration's antiextremism conference, also said that the IS threat was so serious that the FSB deemed intelligence sharing with the United States "quite possible."
Russia has also sought to expand regional cooperation to deal with the threat of the IS group and extremism elsewhere in the former Soviet space, particularly in Central Asia, where fears of the security challenges posed by IS and by other militant groups are particularly high.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called in December for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSO) to step up "preventative measures" to combat the threat of IS in Central Asia.
Putin called for "coordinated actions" to fight terrorism by the CTSO's members, which include Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
This month, Moscow urged the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) -- a Russia-dominated security alliance seen as a counterweight to NATO -- to strengthen its efforts against the IS threat.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk