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A U.S. national who is a member of the Islamic State group has been deported home, a Turkish official said Monday, as Ankara began repatriating captured foreign IS fighters.
Turkish Interior Ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency that a German and a Danish national would also be deported later on Monday while seven German nationals would be returned on Nov. 14.
Cataki did not immediately provide further information on the IS suspects but said they were being held in deportation centers.
“A foreign terrorist fighter from the United States has been deported from Turkey after the procedures were completed,” Anadolu quoted Catakli as saying.
Turkey has over the past few weeks criticized Western nations, including Britain and the Netherlands, for refusing to take back their nationals who had joined the militant group and vowed to send back IS militants — even if their citizenship has been revoked.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has said that Turkey is not “a hotel” for IS militants and that Ankara would begin repatriating IS militants held by Turkey as of Monday. Soylu did not provide any numbers or say which countries they would be sent back to.
Soylu said about 1,200 foreign IS fighters were in Turkish prisons and 287 members, including women and children, were re-captured during Turkey’s military offensive into northeast Syria last month.
Turkey’s move to transfer IS foreign fighters comes amid Turkish frustration with Western nations that have refused to back Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara considers to be terrorists because of their links to Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey. Many countries have voiced concerns that the Turkish invasion would lead to a resurgence of the IS.
Several European countries, including Britain, have stripped IS fighters of their nationalities, to prevent their return.