Turkey will begin to repatriate captured Islamic State militants to their home countries as of Monday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by state media on Friday, Reuters informs.
Turkey has long criticised its European allies for refusing to take back Islamic State fighters who are their citizens, and on Monday warned that Ankara would send captured jihadists back to their countries even if their citizenships have been revoked.
“We are telling them: ‘We’ll repatriate these people to you’, and we are starting as of Monday,” the state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Soylu as saying.
Meanwhile, a top American diplomat on the ground in northern Syria has criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month — and said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”
In a searing internal memo, the diplomat, William V. Roebuck, raised the question of whether tougher American diplomacy, blunter threats of economic sanctions and increased military patrols could have deterred Turkey from attacking. Similar measures had dissuaded Turkish military action before, The New York Times reported.
“It’s a tough call, and the answer is probably not,” Roebuck wrote in the 3,200-word memo. “But we won’t know because we didn’t try.” He did note several reasons the Turks might not have been deterred: the small American military presence at two border outposts, Turkey’s decades-long standing as a NATO ally and its formidable army massing at the Syrian frontier.