Turkey is committed to the repatriation of EU citizens who fought for the Islamic State and their families.
Following the capture of northeast Syria from Kurdish forces, a pressing question has been who will take on responsibility for 12,000 captured IS fighters and 30,000 members of their families. Al-Monitor cites US military sources claiming that at least 2,000 of these fighters are foreign nationals from 50 countries, including the EU.
750 prison breaks have reportedly taken place in Syria, although media attention focused on the killing of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by US special forces in Idlib, northwest Syria.
The Netherlands, the UK, Germany, and France have refused repatriation, making the case for trials close to where prosecutors can call witnesses and summon evidence, primarily in Iraq. Informally, EU diplomats are also concerned that the higher burden of proof in European courts and relatively lenient sentencing. The UK revoked the passports of two IS women claiming they had dual nationality.
Turkish Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, told the press that revoking the citizenship of IS fighters contravenes international law, making clear Turkey would not become “a hotel for IS members”; on Monday, Soylu said that European fighters would be sent home “citizenship or not.”
According to Soylu, 1,200 foreign IS militants are currently in Turkish prisons or deportation centres. In Syria, Turkish forces detained 287 IS members, including women and children. Turkey wants Germany to take back 20 fighters, four of whom were captured in Syria.