France will for now not act on U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for European allies to repatriate hundreds of Islamic State fighters from Syria, taking back militants on a “case-by-case” basis.
France Justice Minister, Nicole Belloubet, said this on Monday in Paris.
U.S.-backed fighters appear poised to capture Islamic State’s last enclave in Syria, and Trump on Saturday pressed France, Britain and Germany to bring home over 800 captured Islamic State fighters and put them on trial.
Trump has however sworn to pull U.S. forces from Syria after Islamic State’s territorial defeat.
The pullout has raised concerns in Paris and other European capitals that jihadists from their countries can disperse and try to return to their home countries.
“There is a new geo-political context with the U.S. withdrawal.
“For the time being, we are not changing our policy.
“At this stage, France is not responding to (Trump’s) demands,” Belloubet told France 2 television.
French government policy had been to categorically refuse to take back fighters and their wives.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian referred to them as “enemies” of the nation who should face justice either in Syria or Iraq.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner acknowledged in January that the prospect of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria had forced France to prepare for the return of dozens of French jihadists held by U.S.-backed Kurdish authorities.
Report says Paris is already trying to repatriate minors on a case-by-case basis.
Military and diplomatic sources say the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are holding about 150 French citizens in northeastern Syria, including 50 adults.
Germany too was cool toward Trump’s demands, saying it could only take back Islamic State fighters if the suspects had consular access.