ANKARA — Turkey has begun sending home Saudi fighters in Syria.
Officials said Turkey responded to a request from Saudi Arabia and sent nationals who had been fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Turkish military station at the border gate with Syria.
The officials said many of the Saudi fighters had crossed the border from Syria into Turkey and were treated by the Saudi embassy in Ankara.
“We received several calls from the relatives of these Saudis,” Saudi ambassador to Turkey Adel Mirdad said. “We have informed them that the moment they arrive in Turkey we will make arrangements for their travel to the kingdom.”
Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra — becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.
One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al-Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.