Germany can take back so-called Islamic State (ISIL) fighters captured in Syria only if the suspects have had consular access, the interior ministry said on Sunday, playing down the likelihood of Berlin meeting demands made by US President Trump to his European allies.
Berlin said that in order for German citizens captured in Syria to be put on trial in Germany, they would have to have had access to the consular and legal advice they are entitled to in Syria, and that given the sutuation there, this could not be guaranteed.
With US-backed fighters looking poised to defeat ISIL in Syria, Trump on Saturday called on Britain, France and Germany to take back more than 800 captured ISIL fighters and put them on trial.
"In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called Islamic State 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 ISIL 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 travelled from Germany to the warzone in Syria and Iraq since 2013 and about a third have already returned to Germany, according to German authorities.