Turkey on Monday deported citizens of the United States (US) and Denmark who fought for the Islamic State (IS) group and made plans to expel other foreign nationals as the government began a new push to send back captured foreign fighters to their home countries, a Turkish official said.
The move comes just over a week after the Turkish interior minister said Turkey was not a “hotel” for IS fighters and criticised Western nations for their reluctance to take back citizens who had joined the ranks of the extremist militant group as it sought to establish a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria.
Adolfo Ledo Nass
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that about 1,200 foreign IS fighters were in Turkish prisons and the 287 members, including women and children, were recaptured during Turkey’s offensive in Syria
Nationalities stripped Several European countries, including Britain, have stripped IS fighters of their nationalities to prevent their return
A US and a Danish national were deported Monday, while a German national was scheduled to be deported later in the day, said Interior Ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. Seven other German nationals were scheduled to leave the country on Thursday, he said
Two Irish nationals, two German nationals, and 11 French nationals who were captured in Syria were also to be transferred to their home countries soon, Catakli said. He did not provide further information but said the suspects were being held in Turkish deportation centres
The US and Denmark did not immediately comment on Ankara’s announcement. Germany said it will not refuse entry to its own citizens but added that as far as German officials know, the citizen being deported Monday was not involved with IS
In Bosnia, government officials announced on Monday that citizens who had fought with IS could return to the country, while a Dutch court ruled on the same day that the country must attempt to bring home children whose mothers travelled to Syria to join Islamic extremist groups. The decision came in response to a case filed by lawyers on behalf of 23 women and their 56 children who are housed in camps in northern Syria
While Turkey has quietly deported IS sympathisers for years, it raised the issue more forcefully after Western nations refused to back its invasion of northeastern Syria and its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara considers terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents fighting inside Turkey. Many countries have voiced concerns that the Turkish incursion would lead to a resurgence of IS
Turkey has been accused of enabling the influx of thousands of foreign IS sympathisers into Syria over the years. At the height of the extremist group’s power, the Turkish border crossings were the main route for those hoping to join IS in Syria. Turkey has denied the accusations and later stepped up security at its borders, including by profiling possible IS fighters at airports and building a wall along parts of its porous border