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Iran Press TV

Ankara rejects China claims on sending Uighurs to ISIL

Iran Press TV

Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:19PM

Turkey has rejected China's claims that Ankara is sending ethnic Uighurs to fight alongside Takfiri ISIL terrorists in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said during a press conference on Wednesday that the claims "are ridiculous," Turkey's official Anadolu Agency reported.

He was responding to a question about claims that Turkish diplomats had given passports to those seeking to travel to war-torn Syria.

"This is not an allegation to even answer; it is laughable," Bilgic added.

The comments came after China's Ministry of Public Security said last week that many of the 109 ethnic Uighurs that Thailand recently sent to the country were "on their way to Turkey, Syria or Iraq to join" terrorists.

China's State news agency Xinhua also reported that a Chinese police probe has discovered several gangs in Turkey recruiting people for militant groups, and that Turkish diplomats in some Southeast Asian countries had made easy the illegal movement of people.

Over a year ago, 282 Uighurs were arrested in Thailand. A group of 173 were sent to Turkey in late June, and 109 others were deported to China earlier in July.

The Turkic and largely Muslim minority reside in China's northwestern Xinjiang region, where they say they are subject to cultural and religious restrictions as well as economic marginalization.

Scores of Uighurs have purportedly escaped China in recent years, with some traveling through Southeast Asia in an attempt to reach Turkey.

Relations between Turkey and China have strained over the past weeks after Beijing reportedly banned fasting for teachers, students and civil servants in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region during Ramadan.

Turkey is one of the main supporters of Takfiri militancy against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with reports showing that Ankara actively trains and arms the militants operating in Syria, and also facilitates the safe passage of would-be foreign terrorists into the country, which has been gripped by crisis since 2011.

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