Cyprus stops people from travelling to Syria to join IS, says official

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-13 23:08:02|Editor: yan
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NICOSIA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus has stopped several people from travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State(IS), a high official said on Thursday.

Alexandros Zenon, permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry, said that at least 18 people had been stopped in Cyprus when they arrived in order to travel to Syria through the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus.

"They were sent back to their countries of origin," Zenon told the state-run Cyprus News Agency.

Foreign diplomats have said that many extremists arrived in the past in Cyprus, a European Union member state, and then crossed into the part occupied by Turkish troops, from where they travelled to Turkey and then either to Syria or Iraq.

Zenon said these "so-called foreign fighters" were intercepted in 2015.

He added that from then on they stopped using the Cyprus route because they found out that it was not easy to travel to Syria either directly or through Turkey, as the authorities there applied stricter checks.

Zenon said Cyprus is in close cooperation with many countries to prevent terrorist actions, adding that the cooperation has been very effective.

He added that due to its geographical position, Cyprus is in close cooperation with the security and intelligence services of countries both in the region and further away.