DAESH prisoners will be sent back to their countries of origin, Turkey announced on Sunday. The response follows a refusal by several European states to take back their terror suspects.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the country would not be a “hotel” for foreign militants, who will be returned even if they have been stripped of citizenship.
The issue came to a head after Dutch officials declared they had started the process to revoke citizenship of two Dutch members of Daesh who were arrested in Ankara last week.
Named by local press as Kaoutar S. and Fatima H., the two women are said to have first come to Turkey in 2013 and illegally crossed into Syria where they married Daesh fighters.
The pair, of dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, returned to Turkey after their husbands were killed. When they appealed to the Dutch Embassy in Ankara to be allowed to return home, the Dutch authorities started the process to strip them of their citizenship.
“Netherlands is not the only one to follow this process; Britain is doing the same,” Mr Soylu told reporters in Ankara.
Acknowledging that prisoners were being left “stateless” as a result, the Minister said, “We [Turkey] are not a hotel for Daesh members of any country.”
He referred to Turkey’s bi-lateral agreements with these countries, highlighting that they covered “mutual extradition”.
Mr Soylu added, “It is not acceptable for us [to hear] ‘I stripped them of the citizenship, you take care of it’. This is also irresponsibility.”
Following Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, Kurdish fighters previously guarding camps holding Daesh prisoners have left, leaving the Turks to deal with foreign captives.
Mr Soylu said about 1,200 foreign fighters were currently in Turkish prisons, and 287 members and their families were re-captured after escaping from their Syrian camps. He added more fighters were held in deportation centres in Turkey, but didn’t provide statistics.