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Turkey to send home foreign IS group fighters captured in Syria

Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu speech during a meeting to discuss cooperation on migration management in Ankara, Turkey, October 3, 2019.
Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu speech during a meeting to discuss cooperation on migration management in Ankara, Turkey, October 3, 2019. Adem Altan, AFP

The Turkish government said on Saturday it would send foreign Islamic State fighters captured in Syria back to their countries of origin, despite the unwillingness of notably Europe states to take them in.

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"We are not going to keep them until the end of time," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters. "We're not a hotel for Daesh," he said, using another name for Islamic State.

He said Turkey would hold captured foreign fighters "for some time. After that we'll send them back to their countries".

Soylu said EU countries including the Netherlands and Britain had stripped some of the fighters of their nationality to prevent Ankara from sending them home.

"They found an easy solution," he said. "They say 'I took his nationality away, it's your problem now'. That's unacceptable in our view, that's totally irresponsible. What do you want me to do with your terrorist?"

Turkey last month launched an offensive in north-eastern Syria against a Kurdish militia Turkey has branded "terrorists", but which was at the forefront in the fight against Islamic State with the backing of Western governments.

As part of the offensive, Turkey took Islamic State members into custody who had previously been held by the Kurds.

Others are said to have escaped from Syrian prisons in the chaos of the offensive.

The Turkish government regularly calls on European countries to repatriate their nationals belonging to Islamic State, but many governments are dragging their feet, fearing a public backlash and security problems.

(AFP)

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