Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

ISIS fighter stuck on Turkey-Greece borders returned to US, minister says

Turkish authorities say the US had initially refused to accept him, and that he chose deportation to Greece

In this Monday, Nov. 11, 2019 file photo, a man identified by Turkish media as 39-year-old Muhammad Darwis B., a US citizen of Jordanian origin, stands in a no man's land between Turkey and Greece near Pazarkule border gate, Edirne, Turkey. AP
In this Monday, Nov. 11, 2019 file photo, a man identified by Turkish media as 39-year-old Muhammad Darwis B., a US citizen of Jordanian origin, stands in a no man's land between Turkey and Greece near Pazarkule border gate, Edirne, Turkey. AP

A suspected US militant, trapped for days between the Turkish and Greek borders, was sent back to the United States on Friday, Turkey's interior minister said.

"The American on the shared border with Greece has just been expelled from Istanbul by plane to the United States," Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by Turkish media.

The man, identified as Muhammad Darwis B, a US citizen of Jordanian descent, was captured in Syria on suspicion of ties to ISIS, according to state news agency Anadolu.

Turkish authorities say the US had initially refused to accept him, and that he chose deportation to Greece, only for Greek authorities to refuse him entry on Monday.

He was trapped in no-man's land between the borders, next to Turkey's northeastern province of Edirne, though Turkish border guards gave him food and a car to sleep in at night, according to Anadolu.

There was an apparent breakthrough on Thursday, when Turkey said the US "committed to taking him back".

Turkey has criticised Western countries for not taking back captured members of IS, and has lately publicised its efforts to deport jihadists back to their countries of origin.

It follows criticism of Turkey's offensive last month against Kurdish militants in northern Syria, which Western governments complained would undermine the fight against IS.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of IS in custody, and had captured 287 during the offensive in Syria.

The Hurriyet newspaper said Wednesday that 959 suspects were being prepared for deportation, with the largest numbers coming from Iraq, Syria and Russia.

The Turkish interior ministry earlier Thursday said seven Germans and one Briton would be deported to Berlin and London respectively.

Six German "foreign terrorist fighters" were deported to Berlin on Thursday, DHA news agency reported.

Four of the six were women, the agency said, and were put on a 4.15pm (1315 GMT) plane from Istanbul airport to Berlin.

The Metropolitan Police in London said later on Thursday a man was arrested on terrorism offences after arriving at Heathrow airport on an inbound flight to the UK from Turkey.

"He was arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts," the police said in a statement. "The arrest is Syria-related," it added.

Updated: November 16, 2019 02:34 PM

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