Turkey is threatening to send detained members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to Europe after expressing displeasure over the sanctions the European Union placed on the country for its gas drilling off of Cyprus.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted the “gates will open” for ISIS members to enter Europe while speaking to reporters Tuesday, the day after the EU declared the sanctions, The Associated Press reported.
“You should revise your stance toward Turkey, which at the moment holds so many IS [Islamic State] members in prison and at the same time controls those in Syria,” the AP reported he said.
“These gates will open and these IS members who have started to be sent to you will continue to be sent,” he added. “Then you can take care of your own problem.”
Erdoğan said Turkey also will send captured ISIS militants back to their home countries, even if these countries deny responsibility for the prisoners, saying Turkey was not a “hotel” for ISIS fighters.
The country deported fighters who were citizens of the U.S., Denmark and Germany on Monday and is seeking to remove seven other German citizens and two Irish and 11 French citizens, according to the news wire.
One U.S. citizen and ISIS fighter deported from Turkey is reportedly stuck between Greece and Turkey after Greece refused to let him in.
“Whether they are stuck there at the border it doesn’t concern us,” Erdoğan told reporters, according to the AP. “We will continue to send them. Whether they take them or not, it is not our concern.”
The country is holding about 1,200 ISIS fighters and 287 ISIS fighters and family members captured during Turkey’s offensive into Syria, the AP reported.
Turkey has been returning ISIS prisoners to their homeland but has become more vocal about their efforts after the EU decided to impose sanctions and after Western nations did not support Turkey’s offensive against the Syrian Kurdish forces last month.
Cyprus, an EU member, alleged the gas Turkey was drilling for in Mediterranean waters was exclusively theirs, prompting the EU to make it possible to sanction Turkey.
Erdoğan plans visit with President Trump on Wednesday and could discuss this topic.