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Interior Minister: Turkey will send back Daesh members even if citizenship dropped

November 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in Ankara, Turkey on 2 August 2019 [Barış Oral/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said his country will send back some 1,200 captured Daesh members to their countries whether or not their citizenship had been revoked.

“We will send back Daesh members in our hands to their own countries whether they revoke their citizenships or not,” he said.

The Turkish minister pointed out that nearly 287 members of the organisation, including women and children, had been arrested during Operation Peace Spring launched by Turkey east of the Euphrates in Syria.

He added that the Turkish authorities are working to refer the 287 Daesh members to the judicial authorities where they will be sent either to prison or to deportation centres as a prelude to returning them to their countries.

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“The world has devised a new method. They say, ‘Let’s strip them of their citizenship… Let them be tried where they are,’” he said, adding: “It is impossible for us to accept this view.”

Whilst the US, Lebanon, Russia, Indonesia, Sudan, and New Zealand have agreed to return their nationals, European countries, in particular, have wrestled with how to handle suspected militants and their families.

Controversy erupted in the UK earlier in March after it emerged the newborn son of 19-year-old Shamima Begum, who travelled to Syria as an “ISIS bride”, had died, weeks after she had been stripped of her citizenship and barred from returning home.

Last week, France announced that it had repatriated five young children from camps in northern Syria, but repeated its position that adult citizens who had joined Daesh abroad should be tried on the spot; Switzerland has expressed similar sentiments.

Even for countries that have pledged to take back children, progress has been slow, with fears that more will die as the conditions in the camps worsen. Concern over separating children from their mothers has also caused delays, but European countries have been reluctant to set a precedent by allowing women who joined Daesh to return, that could extend to their husbands.

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