After it launched a military incursion in northeastern Syria, Turkey captured some ISIS members who escaped in the chaos of the fighting. But on Saturday, Turkey’s Interior Minister said his country had no interest in keeping them forever. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Turkey would send captured Islamic State members back to their home countries, and complained about European inaction on the matter.
(SOUNDBITE)(Turkish) TURKISH INTERIOR MINISTER SULEYMAN SOYLU SAYING:
"In term of the foreigners (Islamic State prisoners), we will keep them under surveillance in certain locations for a while and after that we will send them back to their home countries…We are not a hotel for anybody's Daesh members, it is not possible to accept this. We have agreements with all these countries and in these agreements it is aforementioned to send them back. But this, deprivation of citizenship, is a new method. They are saying 'I denationalized them, you are on your own.' This is not acceptable for us. I am stating clearly that this is also irresponsible, what am I going to do with your terrorist?"
President Donald Trump’s decision to abruptly pull US troops from Northern Syria made way for a Turkish incursion, leading to an outbreak of regional violence, the displacement of thousands and the escape of some ISIS members.
Last month he brushed off the threat of escaped ISIS fighters because, he said, they weren’t heading to the United States.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING:
"(reporter asking: the ISIS fighters escape and pose a threat elsewhere?) Well they're going to be escaping to Europe. That's where they want to go. They want to go back to their homes.”
Trump has previously complained that Europe wouldn’t take the fighters back, tweeting in mid-October: “Europe should have taken them back after numerous requests. They should do it now.”