Turkey deported 229 foreign fighters since Syria operation

Turkey said it had deported 229 people it said were foreign terrorists, 75 of them EU citizens, after its offensive in northern Syria in October, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday, citing an Interior Ministry official.

Abdullah Ayaz, the head of the ministry’s Migration Department, did not specify to which group the foreign nationals belonged, but Turkey is in the midst of a drive to return captured members of Islamic State (ISIS) to their countries of origin.

Turkey started repatriating ISIS members in November, a month after its military operation in northern Syria against Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkey has deported 7,898 foreign fighters of 102 nationalities since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, Ayaz said.

Turkey was one of the principal routes for foreign fighters trying to join ISIS at the height of the group’s self-declared caliphate, but analysts maintain the country remains a transit hub for people aiming to join armed groups.