Turkey to start repatriating ISIS members next week - interior minister

Turkey will start repatriating captured members of the Islamic State (ISIS) to their countries of origin as of Monday, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Friday.

Turkey has captured 287 ISIS members in northeastern Syria since it launched a military offensive on Oct. 9, and there are some 1,200 ISIS detainees in Turkish prisons, Soylu said on Nov. 4. The minister also criticised European countries for revoking ISIS members’ citizenships, saying this unfairly passed the responsibility of dealing with them to Turkey.

“We are telling Europe that we are sending them to you, we will send three of them, five of them, 10 of them,” Turkish newspaper Hürriyet quoted Soylu as saying about captured ISIS members. 

“Now we are telling you that we will repatriate them to you, and we are starting as of Monday,” he said. 

The minister said Turkey would deport the ISIS members whether their citizenships had been revoked or not.

ISIS lost the last of its territory in the region six months ago, and tens of thousands of the group’s members, including some 2,000 foreign fighters and their families, are being held in detention camps scattered throughout northeast Syria.

Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish-held territories in northern Syria has sparked concerns that the jihadist group could launch a resurgence.