Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said his country would send suspected members of the Islamic State (ISIS), who were captured by Turkish forces during the military incursion in Syria, back to their home countries.
According to a report by Reuters, Soylu also criticized the European states for revoking ISIS suspects’ citizenship and leaving Turkey to deal with the prisoners’ status.
“That is not acceptable to us. It’s also irresponsible,” the minister said during a press conference in capital Ankara, lashing out at Europe over its inaction on the issue.
European governments have been divided over whether to repatriate citizens who traveled to Syria and Iraq in order to fight for the ISIS jihadists.
While France backed returning its citizens so they can face trial, Germany has chosen to allow its nationals to remain in the custody of Kurdish groups.
In the past few weeks, the issue has become more urgent as some ISIS fighters detained by the Kurds in northeastern Syria have escaped during Turkey’s offensive targeting Kurdish forces in the area.
Ankara in early October launched a military operation against the Kurdish forces in the region with a stated aim to create a “safe zone” along its border with Syria to resettle a part of more than three million Syrian refugees it currently hosts.
“We are not a hotel for anybody’s Daesh [ISIS] members,” Soylu told reporters in reference to the prisoners who escaped from detention by Kurds and were then re-captured by Turkish forces.
Turkey has Dutch and British suspects in custody as well as those from other countries, the interior minister said, without specifying the number of alleged ISIS members or their families that Turkey has in captivity since its offensive began on October 9.
“Let’s say I keep them in jail for a while. They will [eventually] be released from jail. Am I supposed to give your terrorist citizenship, then?” he questioned.
Almost 800 suspected ISIS members fled a prisoner camp in the aftermath of the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria, Kurdish officials said.
Saying that countries like Britain and the Netherlands found “the easy way” out by making suspected ISIS members “stateless,” Soylu vowed: “We will send the captured Daesh [ISIS] members to their countries.”