A United States citizen suspected of fighting for the Islamic State (ISIS) has been sent by the Turkish government back to his homeland, Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on Friday.
Minister Suleyman Soylu revealed in a statement in the capital Ankara that a suspected ISIS militant, who is a U.S. citizen of Arab descent, was sent back to his country by plane from Istanbul on Friday.
The repatriation reportedly took place after the suspected militant, who had requested deportation to Greece, was on Monday refused entry by the country’s police.
Washington agreed to take him back on Thursday, the Turkish Interior Ministry said, after he had been stuck in a buffer zone between Turkey and Greece for several days.
A total of 287 suspected ISIS fighters have been captured by Turkish troops in northeastern Syria since the military operation in the area began, Ankara says.
The Turkish military’s offensive in northeastern Syria, which was launched against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the region on October 9, aims to carve out a “safe zone” along the border to resettle some two million refugees that Turkey currently hosts.
Ankara designates YPG as a terrorist organization claiming that it is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group of armed militants who have been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.
Since the Turkish authorities began deporting the captured ISIS suspects to their home countries on Monday, they also repatriated eight Germans and one British suspected fighter, Reuters said.
Ankara further indicated that more ISIS suspects will be deported to Ireland, France, and other nations, mostly European states, in the coming days.
The Turkish government has repeatedly criticized European nations after several of them have refused to take back their own nationals, arguing that those individuals were denationalized due to fighting for ISIS.
Minister Soylu previously emphasized in a statement that Turkey is not a “guesthouse or hotel” for members of ISIS to stay in indefinitely.