Turkey said yesterday it had begun sending back foreign jihadists to their countries of origin, with an American already expelled and more than 20 Europeans including French and Germans in the process of being deported.
A “foreign terrorist fighter” from the US was deported early yesterday, with two more -- from Germany and Denmark -- due to be expelled later in the day, interior ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli told state news agency Anadolu.
Seven more Germans were due for deportation on Thursday, he added, while 11 French citizens, two Irish and at least two additional Germans were also being processed.
Turkey has criticised Western countries for refusing to repatriate their citizens who left to join the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria and Iraq, and stripping some of them of their citizenship.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of IS in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria.
It was not clear if all those being deported this week were captured in Syria, or if some were in Turkish territory.
“There is no need to try to escape from it, we will send them back to you. Deal with them how you want,” Soylu said on Friday.