Turkey deports 229 foreign terrorist fighters

Migration chief says 75 EU-origin foreign terrorists sent back since beginning of anti-terror operation last year

Muhammed Boztepe   | 18.02.2020
Turkey deports 229 foreign terrorist fighters


Turkey has deported 229 foreign terrorists, 75 of whom are EU citizens, since its anti-terror operation in Syria, an official from the country's Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

Abdullah Ayaz, head of Turkey's migration department, told Anadolu Agency that the struggle against the foreign terrorists was ongoing, adding that since 2011, the country has deported 7,898 terrorists of 102 different nationalities.

He noted that entry bans had been issued for 94,000 foreigners considered to be affiliated with terrorist organizations.

The foreign terrorists will continue to be returned whether their home countries wanted to accept them or not, said Ayaz.

He underlined that foreign terrorist fighters were the responsibility of their home countries, citing UN Security Council resolution 2178, which he said contains agreed-upon measures to block the travel of foreign terrorists and readmit them to their countries of origin.

Some EU officials have announced that they would not accept terrorists in their countries, Ayaz said, adding: "It is not acceptable to try to leave them in our country in any way."

Irregular migration

Catching over 450,000 irregular migrants in 2019 -- nearly double that of the previous year -- Turkey increases its measures against irregular migration every year, said Ayaz.

"Unfortunately, the problems in the source regions of irregular migration continue. A significant portion of irregular migrants come from Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said, adding that migration would likely continue until the unfair distribution of prosperity and income across the world came to an end.

Ayaz denied reports that 1.5 million unregistered Syrians were living in Istanbul, saying the number was in fact 7,000.

With more than 118,000 irregular migrants caught in Istanbul last year and 28,000 in 2019, he added that there were currently more than 3.5 million Syrians in Turkey and over 395,000 that returned to areas in northern Syria cleared of terrorists following Turkey's anti-terror operations in the region.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

He drew attention to the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime's ongoing attacks in the northwestern province of Idlib, which has caused 350,000 people to seek shelter near the Turkish border.

"A cease-fire had been declared, but it is not followed by the regime. As a result, there is movement towards our borders," said Ayaz, adding that this group would be kept on the Syrian side of the border.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.

* Writing by Dilara Hamit

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