Turkey has deported 150 foreign terrorist fighters linked to the Daesh terror group to their countries of origin since Nov. 11, Interior Ministry Spokesperson İsmail Çataklı announced Friday.
Ankara continues to deport foreign terrorists to their countries of origin as part of a process launched on Nov. 11 following the Interior Ministry's announcement a week before.
There are some 1,200 foreign Daesh members being held in Turkish prisons, with nearly 300 having been detained over the course of Turkey's current anti-terror operation in northern Syria. The arrests include relatives of Daesh members, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Nov. 4, adding that Ankara would deport the terrorists to their countries of origin.
The issue of the handling of Daesh members and their families detained in Syria – including foreign members of the terror 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 stripped of their citizenship.
Soylu had previously criticized European countries for refusing to take their citizens back by revoking their citizenships, saying that Turkey was "not a hotel for terrorists." He said the country would send them back to their home countries regardless of their citizenship status.
Although the 1961 New York Convention made it illegal to leave people stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified the agreement, with recent cases having triggered a number of prolonged legal battles. The U.K. alone has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining terrorist groups abroad.
Turkey has deported more than 5,000 Daesh suspects and 3,290 foreign terrorists from 95 different countries in recent years while dismantling terror cells and safe houses providing logistical assistance to the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq or plotting attacks inside the country.
The country's efforts against Daesh made it a primary target for the terrorist group, which carried out numerous gun and bomb attacks targeting security forces and civilians, including the country's deadliest terror attack, which killed 102 people and wounded 400 others in a twin suicide bombing at a rally in capital Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015.
As part of Turkey's Operation Peace Spring, launched on Oct. 9, the country has fought to clear northern Syria in the area east of the Euphrates river of terrorist elements, while also making sure Daesh prisoners there remain in detention.
Turkey has taken measures against foreign fighters since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. According to judicial sources, over 76,000 people have been banned entry to the country, and over 7,000 linked to terrorist groups or fugitives have been deported.
There are still more than 1,000 Daesh terrorists in Turkish prisons, according to the Interior Ministry.