Turkey has deported 2,764 foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) of 67 different nationalities since 2019, thanks to security efforts both within the country and across the border, Turkey's Interior Ministry announced Sunday.
In a written statement, the ministry indicated that the deportation of FTFs who come to join terrorist organizations, including the PKK, its various offshoots and Daesh, continues.
“Within this scope, 1,595 foreign terrorist fighters were caught and deported to their countries in 2019, 1,019 in 2020 and 150 in the first two and a half months of 2021,” it said, adding that 224 FTFs were sent to European Union countries in the past three years.
According to the Interior Ministry’s numbers, 117 foreigners from 11 EU countries were deported in 2019, while 95 FTFs from eight EU countries were deported in 2020, and 12 FTFs from three EU countries so far this year.
The ministry underlined that most deportations were to France and Germany.
Of the 224 FTFs deported to the EU in the past three years, 66 were of French nationality, 57 were German, 22 were Dutch, 14 were Swedes and 7 were Swiss.
The issue of dealing with Daesh members and their families detained in Syria – including foreign members of the terrorist group – has been controversial, with Turkey arguing that foreign-born terrorists should be repatriated to their countries of origin, while several European countries have refused, saying the terrorists have been denationalized.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, nearly 5,000 foreign fighters traveled from the EU to conflict areas in Syria and Iraq, according to estimates by the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known as Europol.
Turkey has long criticized European authorities for tolerating PKK terrorist activities on the continent and has pressured them to take stricter measures against the propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities of the terrorist group.