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Germany says repatriation of Syria terrorists ‘extremely difficult’

By AFP - Feb 18,2019 - Last updated at Feb 18,2019

One of the two detained French women who fled the Daesh's last pocket in Syria sit with her children while speaking to on AFP reporter at Al Hol camp, in the Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria,  on Sunday (AFP photo)

BERLIN — The German foreign minister said it would be "extremely difficult" to organise the repatriation of European nationals in Syria, who had joined the Daesh group, in response to a call by US President Donald Trump.

A return could only be possible if "we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained", Heiko Maas told ARD television late on Sunday.

For this, "we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case", he said. Under such conditions a repatriation would be "extremely difficult to achieve".

Berlin wants to "consult with France and Britain... over how to proceed", he said.

The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues "the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground", according to an agenda for the talks.

Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged terrorists captured in Syria.

Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometre near the Iraqi border.

After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, and well as related women and children.

Syria's Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.

"The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on Trial," Trump said in a tweet, using another acronym for Daesh.

After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.

In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a "European solution" on Sunday, calling for "calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks".

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