Germany on Monday ruled out taking back all of its Daesh fighters currently held in prisons in northern Syria, despite criticism and pressure by the U.S. and Turkish leaders.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, an Interior Ministry spokesman told reporters that the government has three criteria on the issue of repatriation of Daesh fighters.
“First of all, there won’t be a blanket acceptance, each case will be examined individually,” Steve Alter stressed.
“Secondly, the identity of the person that we are expected to take back has to be proved beyond a doubt,” he continued.
“Thirdly, anyone taken back should not pose a threat to our society,” he added.
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on Germany and other European countries to take back their nationals after more than 800 foreign terrorist fighters were captured in Syria.
Among those held in prisons in northern Syria, at least 60 Daesh fighters traveled to the region from Germany and around 40 of them had German passports, according to the local media.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also criticized European countries like Germany for opposing Turkey’s current anti-terror operation in northern Syria while refusing to repatriate Daesh fighters from their countries who had fueled the terror threat.
Critics of the operation claimed Daesh prisoners could escape in the fog of war, while Turkey said it would make sure such prisoners were not released.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
More than 300 people have been killed in Daesh-claimed attacks in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and gunfire. Turkish security forces have been engaged in a long-running campaign to thwart the Daesh threat.
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