DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland expects to repatriate an Irish citizen aligned to Islamic State and her two-year-old daughter from Turkey this weekend, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Saturday, as authorities in Ankara continues its deportation of detainees.
Turkey says it has captured 287 militants in northeast Syria, where Turkish troops launched an offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia last month, and has hundreds more jihadist suspects in detention.
It began deporting foreign citizens linked to Islamic State earlier this month and Ireland confirmed shortly afterwards that Lisa Smith and her daughter were the two Irish citizens identified by Ankara for deportation.
“It is anticipated that two Irish citizens, Lisa Smith and her daughter will return to Ireland this weekend,” Varadkar told reporters.
“Obviously when it comes to her daughter, she’s a child and she will be protected. In relation to Lisa Smith, the Gardai (Irish police) are going to want to speak to her, they may be in a position to charge her and if they do a prosecution may follow.”
Dublin has said for months that it has a responsibility to find a way to bring Smith back to Ireland after she became aligned to the militant group in Syria and that its main concern was for the safe repatriation of her daughter.
Smith had said in media interviews that she wished to return home.
Varadkar had previously said that a security assessment would need to be carried out to ensure that Smith “does not become a threat to life and limb in Ireland.”
Turkey has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back their citizens who had travelled to the Middle East to join Islamic State. Meanwhile, European countries are trying to speed up a plan to move thousands of jihadists out of Syrian prisons and into Iraq.
So far Turkey has repatriated 10 German nationals, one U.S. citizen, and one British suspected fighter. Eleven detainees from France will be repatriated in early December, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Frances Kerry