Turkey would be willing to help the Canadian government bring dozens of ISIS fighters with Canadian citizenship out of the middle east, a Turkish official has said.
The anonymous official said that the Turkish government would be very open to help retrieve ISIS fighters from Syria and bring them to Canada.
“I think we would be positive to that,” he said. “With some imagination, I suppose a way could be found.”
These ISIS fighters are being held in Syria by the YPG, a Kurdish rebel group with controls most Syrian territory along the Turkish border.
There are around 190 alleged ISIS fighters with links to Canada abroad, many held by the YPG in Syria. This excludes the 60 that the government estimates have already returned to Canada.
It was recently revealed that the Liberal government has been exploring options to bring Canadian ISIS fighters home.
With the proposition of Turkish aid, nearly all Canadian ISIS fighters may be back on Canadian soil within a relatively short time.
As Turkey associates the YPG with Kurdish terrorists in their own country, however, Turkey would not directly communicate with the YPG.
“We wouldn’t deal directly with the YPG. I don’t see that possibility,” the Turkish official said. “We don’t deal with terrorists.”
The official said that if Canadian officials could go to Syria and transport the ISIS fighters to the Turkish border, Turkish authorities would be willing to take in the terrorists and transport them to Canada.
If they were to return to Canada it is unlikely that most of them would ever get prosecuted.
“We may not be in a position, as each and every one of them comes back to Canada, that we’re at that stage where we can arrest them,” RCMP Deputy Commissioner Denis Michaud has said.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has downplayed the need to repatriate Canadian ISIS fighters, saying that Canada is “not going to put our diplomatic officers or our consular officials at risk” by putting them to work in the Middle East.
But according to a recently released report, the government has “evaluated a number of possible options/transfer scenarios.” It is unclear how far this government will go to bring terrorists back to Canada.