Angered at EU, Turkey threatens to release IS prisoners


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was asked to comment Tuesday after reports emerged that the government had released about 1,200 ISIS militants to their home countries as retaliation for the EU's decision to impose sanctions on his country over its drilling for gas in Mediterranean waters off Cyprus.

Speaking in Ankara ahead of a visit to Washington, Erdogan slammed the EU's decision and said Turkey was acting in line with its rights based on global law. "Hey EU, know this: Turkey is not one of those countries you have come to know until now".

The US-Turkish relationship has been under severe strain following Erdogan's ordering of an October offensive against US-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

The president also apparently said that if Turkey agreed to forgo the deal, it could be re-admitted into purchasing partnership with the U.S.'s next-generation F-35 fighter jet, as well as a potential $100 billion bilateral trade agreement.

Turkey's acquisition in July of Russia's S-400 air defense system crossed a line for many lawmakers.

Erdogan again used the threat of "opening the gates" to millions of Syrian refugees that Turkey is hosting, and called for greater support, given its efforts in handling militant prisoners.

"Don't look at these things as rewards; they're the execution of diplomacy", said a senior State Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.

If verified, the imagery could provide credibility to allegations that the offensive Turkey launched over Western objections last month has resulted in repeated abuses against Syrian Kurds who have been an important US partner against the Islamic State.

Recently, Turkey deported a U.S. citizen who, Ankara claimed, was associated with ISIS, but is now stuck in the heavily militarised no man's land between Greece and Turkey, after Greece refused to take him in. Images showed him temporarily trapped between the two borders early Monday.

Ministry spokesman Ismail Çataklı said one American and one German were deported on Monday.

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With Turkey beginning the deportation process of Daesh captives held in its prisons back to Europe on Monday, the issue is brought back to the bilateral agenda between Ankara and European Union, whose relations have been strained since the recent military incursion in northern Syria.

Denmark will fast-track legislation allowing people with dual citizenship who have gone overseas to fight for militant groups like Islamic State to be stripped of their Danish nationality, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday (13 October). It was not clear whether those being deported were captured in Syria or Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Washington, DC late on Tuesday for a two-day visit during which he will hold official talks with his United States counterpart Donald Trump. Ankara has said that it wants to repatriate as many as it can. A French official told AFP that the French nationals being expelled were mostly women.

Soylu did not provide further details on the suspect.

These 11 will be tried, the official said, adding that discussions were under way to determine whether their arrival will be handled by civil or military airport authorities.

Turkey has lately increased pressure on Europe to take responsibility for the problem.

"It suggests that he may be less interested in a joint solution to the problem of captured Daesh fighters than in being able to use them as leverage in foreign policy disputes", he said.

The fate of foreign fighters from Daesh has been a controversial issue since the defeat of the group in Syria and Iraq.

"We need global cooperation to solve the problem", Guterres, who is attending the Paris Peace Forum alongside some 30 world leaders, told France's RTL radio.

"There has been a callous disregard for civilian lives, including attacks on residential areas", said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.