Kurds in Syria say they hold 900 foreign IS fighters
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Kurds in Syria say they hold 900 foreign IS fighters

Figure significantly up from last month, as local official accuses Western countries of ‘flouting their responsibility’ to accept their citizens back

In this file picture taken on Friday, July 21, 2017, Kurdish soldiers from the Anti-Terrorism Units, carry a blindfolded an Indonesian man suspected of Islamic State membership, at a security center, in Kobani, Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
In this file picture taken on Friday, July 21, 2017, Kurdish soldiers from the Anti-Terrorism Units, carry a blindfolded an Indonesian man suspected of Islamic State membership, at a security center, in Kobani, Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

QAMISHLI, Syria — Syrian Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State terror group hold around 900 of the organization’s foreign jihadists, a spokesman said on Thursday, a sharp increase from a previous figure.

In lengthy battles against IS in the war-torn country, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have rounded up thousands of alleged IS members, Syrian and otherwise.

“Around 900 IS terrorists are in our jails… from 44 countries,” YPG spokesman Nuri Mahmoud said.

That is a sharp rise from the figure of 520, given by another Kurdish official last month.

“The war is ongoing and until now we are arresting terrorists,” Mahmoud explained, referring to ongoing battles against IS in eastern Syria.

“The numbers have increased over the past months from the battles between our forces and IS,” he said.

Kurdish authorities have said they will not put any foreign jihadists on trial, and repeatedly called on their home countries to take them back.

But Western countries, reeling from IS-claimed terror attacks on their own soil, have been reluctant.

“Most countries have been flouting their responsibility,” Mahmoud said.

According to Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar, Syrian Kurds also hold 550 women and around 1,200 children from the families of IS members.

Alleged fighters are usually detained in jail, while women and children are held separately in camps.

IS seized large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a so-called “caliphate” in areas they controlled.

But multiple offensives in both countries have since decimated that proto-state.

In Syria, the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces last month launched a battle to expel the jihadists from their last eastern redoubt of Hajin near the Iraqi border.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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