President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that Turkey caught and deported almost 9,000 foreign fighters and terrorists, adding that the country is the only NATO member to fight against Daesh on the frontline.
Speaking in the virtual G20 Leaders' Summit yesterday, hosted from Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, Erdogan revealed: "Although we were left alone, we have nabbed nearly 9,000 foreign terrorist fighters and sent them back to their countries."
He also claimed that "We are the only NATO country fighting Daesh in Syria on the frontline," with Turkey aiming to "eliminate the terrorist threat, prevent conflicts and strengthen stability."
Turkey's deportation of foreign fighters, many of whom were in neighbouring Syria during its ongoing conflict and managed to cross the Turkish border, has been an issue that Turkey has tried to solve over the past few years. Many European nations, however, have been unwilling or reluctant to repatriate their nationals due to concerns over the national security threats they could pose.
In November last year, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced that Turkey planned to deport around 1,200 captured Daesh fighters back to their home countries in Europe, whether they remained citizens or not.
Turkey then began the process of repatriating the foreign militants, deporting dozens of the terror group's fighters the following month. It continued that process throughout this year, as well as countering threats by Daesh cells within Turkey by arresting one of its 'emirs' in September.
Since the emergence of the terror group and its spread throughout neighbouring Syria and Iraq in 2014, Turkey has maintained that its presence was a threat to its national and regional security.
According to NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in January, Turkey has played a crucial role in fighting against Daesh as the NATO member closest in distance to the group.