France to take back 11 suspected ISIS fighters from Turkey
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Christophe Castaner, France’s Interior Minister, on Tuesday said that France would repatriate from Turkey 11 French nationals who are suspected Islamic State fighters.
The announcement came after Turkish Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, on Friday said that Ankara would start to send detained Islamic State fighters in Turkey to their home countries this week.
“France has between 400-500 nationals held in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria, including about 60 fighters,” Reuters reported. Previously, France stated that it would not take back adults with Islamic State affiliation.
However, according to a 2014 agreement between Turkey and France, French nationals who have has been arrested by Turkish authorities have 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 said, adding that since 2014 onwards, 250 French nationals have been brought back under the agreement.
Earlier this month, Minister Soylu warned that Ankara would return foreign Islamic State detainees to their native countries, even if their citizenship had been revoked.
“On Monday, Turkey said it had deported two of the detainees, a German and an American, and added that it would deport another 23 European nationals in the coming days,” according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
According to Soylu, Turkey currently holds around 1,200 foreign Islamic State members in its prisons, including relatives of the suspects.
Many nations in the European Union fear that due to the lack of evidence, 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; however, Iraq officially stated on several occasions that it would not accept foreign ISIS fighters who did not commit crimes on Iraqi soil.
Editing by Nadia Riva