Ankara has said that on Monday it will begin returning captured militants from the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group to their homelands, Deutsche Welle English service reported.
The announcement comes days after Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Turkey was “not a hotel for ISIL members from any country.”
According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, Soylu said on Friday that the ISIL fighters would be returned to their home countries even if their citizenship had been revoked, although it is not clear whether this will be possible.
“Now we are telling you that we are going to send them back to you. We are starting this on Monday,” Soylu said.
The repatriation announcement comes follows criticism by Turkey of European countries that have been reluctant to take back their nationals who have been fighting for an ISIL “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.
Several European countries have been stripping the militants of their citizenship to stop their repatriation amid fears of a political backlash, concerns about whether they can successfully be brought to trial and worries about possible extremist attacks at home.
Britain has revoked the citizenship of more than 100 people for allegedly joining jihadist groups abroad.
In all, Turkey wants to send up to 1,300 foreign jihadists to their countries in Europe and elsewhere. Twenty of them are reported to be German.
In addition to those imprisoned in Turkey, Syrian Kurdish forces are holding around 11,000 ISIL fighters in prisons in northeast Syria along with tens of thousands of women and children who are family members.
Around one-fifth of the ISIL fighters imprisoned by Syrian Kurdish forces in northeast Syria are believed to be European. According to the German Interior Ministry, more than 80 German ISIL members are imprisoned in Syria and Iraq.