Turkey has claimed it will start sending captured ISIS fighters back to their home countries next week.
Interior minister Suleyman Soylu, who has warned that Ankara will send foreign jihadists back home even if they have lost their citizenship in the West, vowed today that extraditions would begin on Monday.
‘Now we are telling you that we are going to send them back to you. We are starting this on Monday,’ he said.
‘There is no need to try to escape from it, we will send them back to you. Deal with them how you want.’
However, it is highly unclear how Turkey would be able to repatriate people who have lost their citizenship.
Warning: Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu, pictured, warned today that Ankara would begin extraditing foreign ISIS terrorists as early as next week
Earlier this week, Soylu said Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of ISIS in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria.
Turkey has frequently criticised Western countries for refusing to take back their citizens who left to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The UK alone has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining jihadist groups abroad.
In the most high-profile case in Britain, teenage ISIS bride Shamima Begum begged to come back to the UK after she gave birth in a prison camp.
But the UK government refused to let her return, and then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her British citizenship.
On top of that, detention camps in Syria are believed to be holding more than 10,000 militants, including some 2,000 foreign fighters.
In addition, tens of thousands of ISIS-linked women and children are held at the al-Hol camp in north-eastern Syria.
Security experts have warned it may be difficult to prove criminal charges against hundreds of fighters, meaning dozens or even hundreds of ISIS supporters would walk free in Europe.
French jihadists made up the largest contingent of European ISIS recruits, it is believed.
An ISIS cell of French and Belgian fighters previously crossed from Syria into Turkey and launched deadly attacks on Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.
Donald Trump has also previously threatened to ‘drop’ jihadists at Europe’s borders if Britain, France and Germany do not take their fighters back.
Threat: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured in Ankara yesterday) has repeatedly warned he could throw open the gates to Europe
Attack: Turkey unveils its flag next to that of a Syrian rebel group at a former Kurdish headquarters in northern Syria last month following Ankara’s military assault
The President called his European allies a ‘tremendous disappointment’ in a furious attack last month, just moments after he announced the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Trump warned the U.S. would not pay for hundreds of jihadists to be held at Guantanamo Bay ‘for the next 50 years’.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Budapest yesterday where he renewed his separate threat to throw open Europe’s gates to Syrian refugees.
Turkey hosts nearly four million of them and has helped to guard Europe’s borders under a deal with EU leaders in 2015 that he has repeatedly threatened to tear up.
‘Whether or not support comes, we will continue to host our guests, but only up to a point,’ Erdogan said.
‘If we see that this does not work, just like I said before, we will have no option left but to open the gates. If we open the gates, it is obvious where they will go.’
Hundreds of people gathered to protest his visit in Budapest, calling him a ‘genocidal dictator’ in the wake of Turkey’s military assault on northern Syria.
Around a million Syrians moved to Germany at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 and the influx has caused a series of political headaches for Angela Merkel ever since.
Turkey has said it hopes to resettle more than a quarter of its Syrian refugees in the former Kurdish territory it has carved out in Syria.