Turkey begins repatriation of foreign IS terrorists

Turkey has started the repatriation of captured Daesh terrorists after the interior minister warned last week that Ankara would do so even if the prisoners had their citizenship revoked.

A U.S. national was deported Monday following the completion of legal proceedings, Interior Ministry Spokesperson Ismail Çataklı said. The American terrorist was not admitted by Greece, leaving him stranded in the buffer zone between the two countries.

Seven terrorist German nationals are scheduled to be repatriated Thursday, Çataklı added.

Turkey is also preparing to deport 11 French citizens captured in Syria.

“The proceedings for 11 foreign terrorist fighters of French origin captured in Syria is ongoing,” Çataklı said.

He said foreign fighters from Ireland, Germany and Denmark were also being prepared for deportation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday that there are 1,201 Daesh terrorists in Turkish prisons, while Turkey has also captured 287 fighters in Syria.

The issue of repatriating citizens who fought for Daesh in Syria remains a divisive problem in Europe, with many countries refusing to accept the terrorists.

Turkey has criticized Western countries for refusing to repatriate their citizens who left to join Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and stripping some of them of their citizenship. Although the 1961 New York Convention made it illegal to leave people stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified it, and recent cases have triggered prolonged legal battles. The U.K. alone has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining terrorist groups abroad.

Ankara said earlier this month it would deport any foreign IS members in its custody, even if they had already been stripped of their citizenship by their country of origin.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that Turkey had 1,200 foreign Islamic State militants in its custody, 287 of whom had been captured after Ankara launched its recent operation in northeastern Syria.

“We will send three, five, 10 people back,” Soylu said on Friday.

“There is no need to try to escape from it, we will send them back to you. Deal with them how you want,” he added, explaining that Turkey was not a “hotel” for IS members. It is unclear how Turkey will be able to repatriate IS members who have been made stateless. It is also unclear how Ankara will be able to successfully repatriate militants to countries such as the United Kingdom which have proven highly reluctant to take back suspected IS members