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Turkey FM hits back at 'foreign fighters' critics

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Some of countries criticizing Ankara ‘are releasing’ foreign fighters that Turkey detains and sends back, Minister Cavusoglu says.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has hit back at critics of Turkey’s “foreign fighters” policy.

“On the issue of foreign fighters, some of those [fighters] that we have deported are coming back. How is this possible?” Cavusoglu said Tuesday during a televised interview.

“Those countries that say ‘Turkey has not fulfilled its duty in terms of foreign fighters’ or ‘it could do more’ are releasing the very foreign fighters we send back to them,” Cavusoglu said without naming any country, adding that some of them “are calling it freedom of travel”.

The minister also highlighted numbers from Turkey’s struggle against foreign fighters, saying that the number of people Turkish officials have banned entry to the country has exceeded 18,000.

This is along with 1,900 people deported and 1,500 sent back from the airport, he said.

On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby lashed out at criticism of Turkey lagging behind in its efforts as a member of the anti-Daesh coalition.

“They’ve allowed us to use airbases now. They’re going to soon be flying in the coalition air tasking order, you know, inside the coalition planning cycle for air ops, and yet I continue to get questions up here, that you know, why aren’t they doing more; why aren’t they doing enough,” Kirby said.

The spokesman’s comments came during a press briefing when a reporter asked whether the state department is content with Turkey’s efforts, unlike the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter who said last week that Turkey should do more against Daesh.

Earlier on Tuesday, Cavusoglu announced that Turkey and the U.S. finalized the technical details of Turkey’s involvement in the anti-Daesh coalition.

“Technical negotiations of the agreement were finalized between Turkey and the U.S with respect to operations against Daesh,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference in Ankara.

The deal is thought to include how Turkish combat aircraft will be incorporated into the anti-Daesh coalition.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu also touched upon the U.S. and Germany’s decision not to renew their Patriot missions in southern Turkey, saying Ankara does not view it as politically motivated.

“We do not see this as a political thing; neither do we perceive it as an act against Turkey.”

The missile batteries have been in Turkey as part of a NATO mission since 2013.

Resource: Anadolu Agency, August 26, 2015

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