Syrian Kurdish militia says large number of Daesh foreign fighters held

Daesh fighters at the Syrian-Iraqi border. Syrian Democratic Forces said that more than half of those detained in the battle against Daesh in Syria are foreign fighters from all over the world, including Russia, Europe, China, Japan and Arab countries. (Corbis)
Updated 12 February 2018
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Syrian Kurdish militia says large number of Daesh foreign fighters held

BEIRUT: The Syrian Kurdish militia partnering with the U.S-led coalition to fight Daesh militants said Monday that it is holding a “huge number” of foreign fighters in Syria and none of their home countries want them back.
The head of the People’s Defense Units, or the YPG, Sipan Hemo, speaking to reporters in a conference call Monday, said more than half of those detained in the battle against Daesh in Syria are foreign fighters from all over the world, including Russia, Europe, China, Japan and Arab countries.
The future of those militants remains unclear and the process for bringing them to justice unsettled amid a debate, mostly in Europe, about whether they should be allowed to return home.
Hemo provided no figure for the number of detainees captured by his forces in Syria but added it was a burden to keep them.
“We suffer from the large number of Daesh detainees that we have now,” Hemo said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Hemo said there is a “huge” number of IS foreign fighters and administrators from all over the world. Most of them are from Russia, Europe and Arab countries, he said.
Hemo said his forces have formally asked foreign governments to take their nationals to be tried at home. “Up until now, no one wants to take them back or to try them. We still have them in (local) prisons,” he said. “Honestly, we also don’t know what their future will be.”
Hemo said many of the local fighters were forced to work or cooperate with IS because they controlled their areas. He said those local detainees will likely face regular courts and will be tried or released. “They are regular people who had to live with Daesh.”
Even that is not exactly straightforward. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have no international recognition and the Syrian government, which runs the local courts, doesn’t have a presence in the areas liberated from IS by the U.S-backed forces.
The SDF — with the YPG as its backbone — captured two British men last month, and US officials interrogated them and identified them with biometric data and other tools. It was the most high profile capture publicly announced. British officials said they don’t want the two men, who were part of a cell that executed foreign hostages, to return home.
US officials say the two men represent just a small portion of the hundreds of foreign-born IS terrorists that were captured or killed since October 2017 by the SDF.
Two French nationals, including a woman listed as a key recruiter, appeared in videos posted online last month to speak about the conditions of their detention in Syria.


Daesh claims Syria attack that killed 14, including 2 US soldiers

Updated 34 min 45 sec ago
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Daesh claims Syria attack that killed 14, including 2 US soldiers

  • Seven civilians died in the attack, while 10 others were wounded
  • A member of the US-led military was killed, and another was severely injured

BEIRUT: A blast struck near a US-led coalition patrol in Syria’s northern city of Manbij on Wednesday, and a war monitor said 14 people were killed including two Americans.
An Daesh-affiliated web site, Amaq, said an attacker with an explosive vest had struck a foreign military patrol in a suicide attack.
Reuters could not independently verify a report by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 14 people had been killed in the attack including two US soldiers. The coalition could not be immediately reached for comment.
Last month, US President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria after concluding Daesh had been defeated there. The announcement rattled allies in the region and top US officials, including Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who quit.
Two witnesses described Wednesday’s blast to Reuters. The US-backed, Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council militia that controls the town said there was preliminary information that people had been injured in Wednesday’s attack.
Manbij has been held by US-backed fighters allied to the Kurdish YPG militia since they took it from Daesh in 2016. It is located near areas held by Russian-backed Syrian government forces and by anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkey.
One of the witnesses said there was a “heavy” presence of military aircraft over Manbij following the blast, which took place near a vegetable market.