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Amid IS Threats, Security Tight for G-20 Summit in Turkey

Ahead of the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to reporters in Istanbul, Nov. 13, 2015.
Ahead of the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to reporters in Istanbul, Nov. 13, 2015.

Amid threats from Islamic State militants, Turkey is putting unprecedented security measures in place for meetings of G-20 heads of state near the coastal city of Antalya starting Sunday.

“Precautionary security measures taken for the summit meetings by the police are at their highest level,” political analyst Ali Akel told VOA.

Some 12,000 soldiers and police will be deployed. The Turkish military said an around-the-clock air defense system would be in place to prevent possible missile or drone attacks.

The gathering at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort and Convention Center will bring together about 13,000 delegates and officials from member countries, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.

Combating IS will be a key topic of discussion on the sidelines of the summit, the White House said this week.

Some 3,000 journalists are expected to cover the summit, which could bring in $214 million to the Turkish economy, according to media reports.

More than 350 mobile cameras with license-plate recording and face-recognition systems were installed on the highway from Antalya airport to the seaside enclave of a township called Belek and around the hotels where world leaders will stay.

Airspace and seacoast in the Antalya region will be closed to normal traffic. During the meetings, no tourists will be allowed to stay in the hotels in Belek.

At least 30 of the 46 hotels in the area have been designated as part of the summit zone. The hotels have been equipped with bulletproof glass and will host only members of country delegations, journalists and officials.

“We don’t see any security weakness,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters this week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made inspections in Antalya this week and was briefed on the security measures, Kalin said.

Despite facing criticism from the U.S. and the West over its restrictive media polices, the Turkish government has banned some Turkish media outlets from covering the summit meetings.

Raids conducted

Dozens of alleged IS militants and sympathizers have been rounded up in raids across the country in recent weeks, especially in and around Antalya.

Turkey is still reeling from an IS-claimed bombing that killed 102 people and wounded hundreds in the capital, Ankara, in October.

In recent days, counterterrorism police conducted anti-IS operations in central Antalya, as well as the city’s Alanya and Manavgat districts.

Security analysts say IS militants cross borders from Turkey into Syria and funnel weapons and recruits to the battlefield. The Turkish government has been under heavy internal criticism for what critics say is a lax policy against IS.

But Turkey has recently stepped up participation in Western coalition fighting against IS in Syria and Iraq and is allowing coalition warplanes to attack from its bases.

“IS threatens our way of life,” Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu said this week.

Visiting delegations are not disclosing where their officials will stay during the G-20 meetings.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has checked into the luxurious Mardan Palace hotel and 65 Mercedes-Benz vehicles arrived before he did.

Because of security concerns, the White House has not announced where Obama will be staying.

The G-20 is made up of 19 countries and the EU. G-20 members represent 85 percent of the world’s economic output. This year, six additional countries are invited as guests.