Turkey to send foreign Daesh militants home from Monday: Minister

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu speaks during a news conference for foreign media correspondents in Istanbul, Turkey, in this Aug. 21, 2019 file photo. — Reuters

ISTANBUL — Turkey will start sending foreign militants back to their home countries next week, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Friday.

"Now we are telling you that we are going to send them back to you. We are starting this on Monday," Soylu said in a speech in Ankara, referring to members of Daesh (the so-called IS).

Earlier this week, Soylu said Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of Daesh in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria.

"We will send three, five, 10 people back," Soylu said in the speech, which was shown online by local media.

"There is no need to try to escape from it, we will send them back to you. Deal with them how you want," he added.

Turkey has criticized Western countries for refusing to repatriate their citizens who left to join Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and stripping some of them of their citizenship.

It remains unclear whether Turkey will be able to repatriate those who have lost their citizenship.

Although under the New York Convention of 1961, it is illegal to leave someone stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified it, and recent cases have triggered prolonged legal battles.

Britain has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining militant groups abroad.

High-profile cases such as teenage Daesh recruit Shamima Begum, and another alleged recruit Jack Letts, have sparked court proceedings and fierce political debate in Britain. — AFP