Turkey has begun deporting foreign members of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, announcing the expulsion of an American jihadist to be followed by 24 others, including 11 French and 10 Germans, two Irish citizens and two Danes.
“An American foreign terrorist was deported from Turkey after all the steps were completed,” Ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli said on Monday.
Two other jihadists will also be sent back to Germany and Denmark today, the spokesperson said. Seven more “foreign terrorists of German origin will be deported Thursday,” he added.
The Danish jihadist arrived on Monday afternoon at Copenhagen airport and was arrested by local authorities, according to Danish police.
“A foreign fighter of Danish nationality, who had already been sentenced to four years in prison in Turkey, was arrested on Monday afternoon when he arrived in Denmark […] on a plane from Turkey, where he had just been released from a holding centre, ” said the Danish police on its website.
The move follows repeated criticism by Turkey directed principally at European governments which Ankara accuses of hiding from their responsibilities to repatriate their citizens held in Turkish detention centres.
Referring to countries like The United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which have deprived IS fighters of their citizenship, thereby preventing Turkey from sending them back to those countries, the Turkish government said they have chosen “the easy solution.”
“They have said “I have taken his citizenship. Now that is your problem”. That is unacceptable. It is totally irresponsible, said Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, according to the Anadolu news agency.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently stated that 287 IS militants have been recaptured by the Turkish military and their Syrian counterparts after escaping from prisons in the Kurdish-controlled area of north-eastern Syria following the Turkish offensive against the territory in early October.