Turkey to begin repatriating ′Islamic State′ militants in days | News | DW | 08.11.2019
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Turkey to begin repatriating 'Islamic State' militants in days

Turkey's interior minister has said Ankara will soon start returning captured IS fighters to their home countries. A number of the militants come from Germany.

Ankara has said it will begin returning captured militants from the extremist "Islamic State" (IS) group to the countries they come from as of Monday.

The announcement comes days after Turkey's interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, said his country was "not a hotel for IS members from any country." 

According to the state-run news provider Anadolu Agency, Soylu said on Friday that the IS fighters would be returned to their home countries even if their citizenship had been revoked, although it is not clear whether this will be possible.

"Now we are telling you that we are going to send them back to you. We are starting this on Monday," Soylu said.

European hesitation

The repatriation announcement comes following criticism by Turkey of European countries that have been reluctant to take back their nationals who have been fighting for an IS "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.

Several European countries have been stripping the militants of their citizenship to stop their repatriation amid fears of a political backlash, concerns about whether they can successfully be brought to trial and worries about possible extremist attacks at home.

Britain has revoked the citizenship of more than 100 people for allegedly joining jihadi groups abroad.

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Thousands in prison

In all, Turkey wants to send up to 1,300 foreign jihadis to their homes in Europe and elsewhere. Twenty of them are reported to be German.

In addition to those imprisoned in Turkey, Syrian Kurdish forces are holding around 11,000 IS fighters in prisons in northeast Syria, along with tens of thousands of women and children who are family members. Around one-fifth of the IS fighters imprisoned by Syrian Kurdish forces in northeast Syria are believed to be European.

According to the German Interior Ministry, more than 80 German IS members are imprisoned in Syria and Iraq.

Since Turkey began an incursion into northeastern Syria in early October, a number of imprisoned suspected militants and their families are reported to have escaped. Ankara says it has recaptured an estimated 287 IS members, including women and children, during the offensive.

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tj/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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