Daesh exodus threatens Turkey and the region

Buses carrying Syrian rebel fighters and their families arrive in Flita, in this August 14, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 16 September 2017
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Daesh exodus threatens Turkey and the region

ANKARA: The Guardian recently reported that several dozen former Daesh fighters had crossed into southern Turkey in recent weeks, and hundreds more are massed in Syria’s Idlib province waiting to cross.
Although Turkey’s border with Syria is closely monitored, the newspaper reported that they had crossed with the help of smugglers.
As Daesh loses territory in Syria and Iraq, the exodus of its militants and their families is expected to continue, posing serious challenges to Turkey and other countries in the region.
In April, Turkey announced the completion of the first phase of a wall that, when completed, is expected to cover the length of its border with Syria.
Ankara recently adopted an integrated security system for its borders with war-torn countries that includes watchtowers, radars, thermal cameras, unmanned drones and night-vision.
Metin Gurcan, a former military officer and security analyst at the Istanbul Policy Center, said Daesh’s territorial losses in Syria and Iraq have made Turkey an appealing gateway for its fleeing militants.
Last month, Australian police arrested two Daesh suspects who put a homemade bomb in their brother’s luggage, camouflaged as a meat mincer, when he was about to fly from Sydney with Etihad Airways.
Australian authorities said the high-grade explosives used to build the bomb, which was detected by airport security, had been sent to Australia by air cargo from Turkey.
“Ankara and the US-led anti-Daesh coalition can’t find an institutional mechanism to coordinate the fight against extremists because they currently lack a trust-based relationship,” Gurcan told Arab News.
This year, Turkish police have further increased efforts to eradicate suspected Daesh cells throughout the country.
According to official figures, Turkey has detained more than 5,000 suspected Daesh militants so far, and has deported some 3,290 foreign fighters from 95 countries.
“There’s an urgent need for effective intelligence-sharing between Turkey and the West to take precautions against possible terror attacks by these militants,” Gurcan said.
Sertac Canalp Korkmaz, a researcher on security studies at ORSAM, a think tank in Ankara, told Arab News: “When these foreign fighters cross Turkish territories, they’ll pose a serious threat to Turkey and to their countries of destination, because they’ve gained significant combat experience and will have a greater capacity for lethal attacks when they return from conflict zones.”
He said: “The security wall that’s being constructed has limited the availability of transit points that could be exploited by Daesh militants.”
A “proactive security policy” is needed to minimize potential threats, Korkmaz added.


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 1 min 51 sec ago
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that 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.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. 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 militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives 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 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
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.”