Turkey kicks out 11 French terrorist suspects, including women, children

ISTANBUL: Turkey said on Monday it had deported 11 French nationals back to France as part of a programme to extradite what it says are foreign terrorist fighters.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry, which made the announcement, gave no details.

France’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment, but diplomatic sources said the 11 included four women and seven children.

Turkey is holding hundreds of Islamic State suspects and last month launched a programme to repatriate detainees that has caused friction with its Nato allies.

Ankara has accused European countries of being too slow to take back citizens who travelled to the Middle East to fight.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in November that Ankara would repatriate most detainees with suspected links to IS by the end of this year.

The move is forcing European governments to decide how to handle the return of radicalised militants, including those with battlefield experience.

Paris signed an agreement with Ankara five years ago for French nationals arrested by Turkish authorities to be deported in coordination with the French authorities.

Turkey has expelled almost 300 French nationals since then, French officials say.

France’s Centre for Analysis of Terrorism said one of the newly deported women was Amandine Le Coz, who had been married to a Moroccan militant killed in Syria.

She joined IS with her husband in 2014.

It said another was Tooba Gondal, a 25-year-old French national who lived in Britain before joining IS in 2015 and who recruited several teenage women.

Gondal is banned from re-entering Britain.

France’s foreign ministry and interior ministry declined to comment.