American Isil returnee left in no-man's land after Greece refuses to give him entry from Turkey

Raf Sanchez
Turkey has captured around 287 foreign Isil members as it carries out an incursion into Kurdish-held Syria - AP

Turkey’s effort to deport foreign Islamic State (Isil) suspects descended into chaos on Monday after officials tried to send an alleged American jihadist to Greece only for the Greek government to refuse to take him. 

The Turkish interior ministry deposited the unnamed man at the Greek border but he was left standing in no man’s land between the two countries’ border stations after Greece refused to allow him in. 

Turkey eventually took the man back into custody, Greek police said. They described him as "an American citizen of Arab descent".

"The Greek authorities did not permit him to enter and stamped his passport. After that, he returned to Turkey," Greek police said in a statement.

The confusion at the Greek border came as Turkey promised it would start sending European jihadists back to their own countries as part of its drive to deport more than a thousand foreign Isil members in its custody. 

Among the British Isil members held by Turkey is Tooba Gondal, a mother of two who travelled to Syria in 2015

The Turkish interior ministry refused to say whether it plans to send back British Isil suspects but Turkey has complained in the past that the UK has refused to repatriate its citizens. 

Ismail Catakli, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said seven Germans would be deported on Thursday and that proceedings were underway to deport 11 French citizens captured in Syria. 

He also said foreign fighters from Ireland, Germany and Denmark were being prepared for deportation.

Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s interior minister, said last week that his country was holding around 1,200 foreign Isil members. Around 287 foreign Isil members have been captured by Turkey in Syria since the start of October, he said.

Among them is Tooba Gondal, a 25-year-old from London who allegedly acted as an Isil “matchmaker” by convincing other British women to follow her to Syria. 

Ms Gondal was born in France but moved to London as a child and had British residency. However, the UK government is reluctant to bring her back to the UK. 

She was banned from re-entering the UK last November by a Home Office exclusion order, but her son Ibrahim, three, is entitled to citizenship because of his British father.

If Turkey does attempt to send Ms Gondal back to the UK it could provoke a legal and diplomatic crisis between Ankara and London. 

Other British Isil suspects may have been taken into Turkish custody earlier if they were intercepted in Turkey while trying to travel to Syria to join the so-called caliphate. 

Mr Soylu, the Turkish interior minister, told Britain and other European governments that Turkey was “not a hotel” for foreign jihadists and vowed to send them home.    

“When there is a Daesh member, they cancel his or her citizenship, making the person stateless. Then, they take no responsibility,” Mr Soylu said. "That is not acceptable to us. It's also irresponsible.”