Turkey will send captured members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) back to their home countries even if their citizenship has been revoked, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Monday, criticizing the approach of European countries on the issue, Reuters reported.
Turkey launched an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia last month following a decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw troops from the region. The move prompted widespread concern over the fate of the ISIL prisoners in the region.
The YPG is the main element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been a leading US ally in beating back ISIL in the region, and has kept thousands of jihadists in jails across northeastern Syria. The United States and Turkey’s Western allies have said Ankara’s offensive could hinder the fight against ISIL and aid its resurgence.
Turkey, which views the YPG as a terrorist group linked with insurgent Kurdish militants on its own soil, has rejected those concerns and vowed to combat ISIL with its allies. It has repeatedly called on European countries to take back their citizens fighting for the jihadists.
Speaking to reporters, Soylu said Turkey would send back any captured ISIL fighters to their countries even if their citizenship has been revoked.
“We will send back those in our custody, but the world has come up with a new method now: revoking their citizenship,” Soylu said. “They are saying they should be tried where they have been caught. This is a new form of international law, I guess.”
“It is not possible to accept this. We will send back [ISIL] members in our custody to their own countries whether they revoke their citizenship or not,” he said.