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Turkey starts repatriation of foreign Daesh fighters in Syria

November 11, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Minister of Interior of Turkey, Suleyman Soylu (R) and Ismail Catakli (L) in Ankara, Turkey on 2 August 2019 [Barış ORL/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey has begun repatriation of foreign fighters in Syria who fought for Daesh, with one from the US having been deported and seven Germans soon to follow, a spokesman for the Turkish Interior Ministry said today.

Ismail Catakli was quoted by the Turkish newspaper Anadolu Agency as saying: “One American foreign terrorist fighter whose proceedings are completed has been deported.” He added that “Travel plans for seven foreign terrorist fighters of German origin at deportation centers have been completed, they will be deported on Nov. 14.”

It was reported by another Turkish news channel NTV that Catakli also said that “three more Daesh militants at deportation centers will be sent back today.”

The move follows Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu’s warning last week that Turkey would begin sending back captured Daesh militants to their home countries even if their citizenships have already been revoked.

Turkey allegedly aims to deport and repatriate around 2,500 former Daesh militants, the majority of whom are to be sent to EU nations from where they travelled, with 813 captured militants reportedly being held at 12 deportation centres within Turkey.

READ: 750 children of European fighters stuck in Syria

The repatriation of foreign fighters comes amid a significant ongoing debate within European and Western countries in particular regarding whether they should allow the former militants, as well as their children, back into their countries.

Following the territorial defeat of Daesh last year and the capture of many of its fighters and their families, there has been increasing concerns about EU nationals who joined the group, many of whom now regret their choices and are looking to return to their home countries. Due to their former affiliation with Daesh and the perceived risk of them posing an extremist threat once they return, European countries have largely refused to grant them access and in many cases have revoked their citizenship, sparking controversy over the ethics of such a move.