Turkish Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu said on Tuesday that Ankara aims to send six or seven fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group home, including to Ireland and the Netherlands, this week alone.
His remarks came a week after Turkish authorities began the repatriation programme.
Ankara said it captured 287 fighters in northeast Syria, where Turkish troops launched an offensive against the Kurdish Syrian forces, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), last month and has hundreds more ISIL suspects in detention.
“The number of detainees to be repatriated by the year-end depends on how long the processes take, but especially for Europe, the process is under way,” Soylu said, adding that countries that revoked the citizenship of their nationals were violating international law.
“They do not have the right to leave their citizens without a nationality. They have no such right,” he said.
“This is why we held evaluations with certain countries on this and they are taking them back.”
Turkey has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back their citizens who travelled to the Middle East to join ISIL.
European countries, meanwhile, are trying to speed up a plan to move thousands of ISIL fighters out of Syrian prisons and into Iraq.
Turkey’s NATO allies have been worried that last month’s offensive into northeast Syria could lead to ISIL suspects and their families escaping from prisons and camps run by the YPG.
Ankara, which views the YPG as “a terrorist group” linked to Kurdish fighters on its own soil, dismissed the concerns while alleging the militia opened some prisons and allowed about 800 ISIL detainees to escape.
So far, Turkey has repatriated 10 German nationals, one US citizen, and one British fighter.
Ankara has said suspects will still be deported to Ireland, France, and other mostly European nations in the coming weeks.
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