France will take back 11 suspected French ISIL members from Turkey, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Nov. 12, a day after Ankara said it was deporting foreign citizens linked to the group.
France, which has between 400-500 nationals held in northern Syria, including about 60 fighters, has been adamant that it will not take back adults that had joined the ISIL terror group in Syria.
It wants to seal an agreement with Iraq on taking and prosecuting its nationals from Syria.
However, as part of a 2014 agreement with Turkey, French nationals arrested by Turkish authorities have previously been deported back to France in coordination with French authorities.
“It is within this framework that we are looking at repatriating 11 French nationals,” Castaner told lawmakers in parliament.
He declined to give details about the individuals, but said that they were known by France and would be handed over to judicial authorities when they arrive.
About 250 French nationals have been repatriated under the system since 2014, Castaner said.
Turkey says it has captured 287 militants in northeast Syria and already holds hundreds more Islamic State suspects. It has accused European countries of being too slow to take back citizens who travelled to fight in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von Der Muhll published a statement regarding ISIL terrorists who will be sent to France after they are deported by Turkey.
It said the question of ISIL fighters is a key security issue for both France and Turkey and will be on the agenda of the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh to be held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14.
“Let me remind you that President [Emmanuel] Macron expressed his willingness in this regard to have a meeting with the heads of state of Germany, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
“In the fight against Daesh that has been under way for several years, France and Turkey have taken care to coordinate closely in cases when French nationals connected with Daesh are found on Turkish territory, under the control of Turkish authorities,” the statement said.
Muhll added that this coordination was still in effect.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on France Inter radio that Turkey and France had an agreement concerning the deportation of terrorists and claimed that France does not have knowledge about Turkey’s return of ISIL terrorists.
Hurriyet Daily News