February 17, 2019
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany can take back Islamic State fighters captured in Syria only if the suspects have consular access, the interior ministry said on Sunday, playing down the likelihood of Berlin meeting demands made by U.S. President Trump to his European allies.
With U.S.-backed fighters looking poised to defeat Islamic State in Syria, Trump on Saturday called on Britain, France and Germany to take back more than 800 captured Islamic State fighters and put them on trial.
“In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called IS have the right to return,” said a spokeswoman for Germany’s interior ministry, adding, however, that the condition for that was consular access for suspects.
She said Iraq had shown an interest in having some IS fighters from Germany put on trial. “But in Syria, the German government cannot guarantee legal and consular duties for jailed German citizens due to the armed conflict there,” she said.
Some 1,050 people have traveled from Germany to the war zone in Syria and Iraq since 2013 and about a third have already returned to Germany, according to German authorities.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Susan Fenton)