The US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group is building a database of foreign fighters to track jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria when they come home, a senior US official said Thursday.
Brett McGurk, the White House envoy to the anti-IS coalition, told an Israeli security conference that the effort aimed to help prevent attacks like those recently carried out in Europe.
“Our coalition is building a global database of foreign fighters, through information-sharing networks and Interpol, to ensure that anyone who fought with ISIS in Syria and Iraq can be identified in either routine traffic stops, border entry points or in the course of routine police work,” McGurk said.
Speaking at the annual Herzliya security conference near Tel Aviv, McGurk said the coalition was also having success in preventing more foreign fighters from joining IS, also known as ISIS or Daesh, in Syria.
“On foreign fighters we’ve largely halted the flow into Syria from Turkey; from hundreds a week to now a handful at most a month,” he said.
The group is under major pressure in Syria and neighboring Iraq. Its fighters are surrounded in the Old City of Iraq’s Mosul, and under attack in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa from US-backed forces that has also seized four neighborhoods of the city.
More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests before spiraling into a war that has drawn in jihadists and foreign powers.