ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish Foreign Ministry officials announced on Saturday that they had repatriated two Belgian women affiliated to the Islamic State the day before, affirming recent statements that Ankara would continue sending adults connected to the extremist group in their custody back to their countries of origin.
Turkey began doing so in mid-November, starting with a US national, a Danish citizen, a German, and two Dutch nationals.
The Brussels Times reported that Belgian authorities would arrest the two sisters, named Fatema and Rahma Benmezian, upon arrival at Brussels Airport Zaventem. Both women are without children and will be heading towards Zaventem municipality, where they are from.
Fatema Benmezian, 24 years old, previously escaped from a refugee camp in the northern Syrian town of Ain Issa and entered Turkey with the help of smugglers before being arrested by Turkish authorities.
Her 31-year-old sister Rahma escaped the sprawling Al-Hol Camp during the Turkish offensive on northeastern Syria that began in early October and was also later arrested in Turkey.
Ismail Catakli, a spokesperson for Turkey’s Interior Ministry, announced on Nov. 11 that Turkish officials had already started to repatriate foreign Islamic State members in their custody.
Earlier this month, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu warned that Ankara would return foreign Islamic State detainees to their native countries, even if their citizenship had been revoked, as it has been in some cases.
“We are not a hotel” for other countries' Islamic State members, he said at the time.
According to Soylu, Turkey is currently detaining roughly 1,200 foreign Islamic State members in its prisons, including their relatives.
Many nations in the European Union fear that due to a lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home. As such, the notion of an international criminal court to try them, either in Iraq or Syria, seems to be an attractive solution for them. Iraq, however, has officially stated on several occasions that it would not accept foreign Islamic State fighters who did not commit crimes on Iraqi soil.
Editing by John J. Catherine