search

Syria Kurds urge world to take back, reintegrate children of foreign IS jihadis

After announcing defeat of terror group, top Kurdish official says thousands of fighters are ‘a danger for us and for the international community’

A picture taken on March 23, 2019, shows a fighter of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) flashing the V for victory sign in the fallen Islamic State group's last bastion in the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz after defeating the jihadist group. (GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)
A picture taken on March 23, 2019, shows a fighter of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) flashing the V for victory sign in the fallen Islamic State group's last bastion in the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz after defeating the jihadist group. (GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

Syria’s Kurds warned Sunday that the thousands of foreign jihadists they have detained in their fight against the Islamic State terror group are a time bomb the international community urgently needs to defuse.

Speaking a day after Kurdish-led forces announced the final demise of the jihadists’ physical “caliphate,” the Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar warned that its foreign captives still pose a threat.

“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Omar told AFP.

“Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation,” he said, referring to the village by the Euphrates where die-hard jihadists made a bloody last stand.

The fate of foreign IS fighters has become a major issue as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces closed in on the once-sprawling proto-state the jihadists declared in 2014.

After a months-long assault by the US-backed SDF to flush out the last IS strongholds in the Euphrates Valley, jihadists and their families gradually gathered in Baghouz as the last rump of the “caliphate” shrank around them.

While some managed to escape, many of the foreigners stayed behind, either surrendering to the SDF or fighting to the death.

Civilians evacuated from the Islamic State group’s embattled holdout of Baghouz wait at a screening area held by the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, on March 5, 2019 (Bulent KILIC / AFP)

According to the SDF, 66,000 people left the last IS pocket since January, including 5,000 jihadists and 24,000 of their relatives.

The assault was paused multiple times as the SDF opened humanitarian corridors for people evacuating the besieged enclave.

The droves of people scrambling out of Baghouz in recent weeks were screened by the SDF and dispatched to camps further north, where most are still held.

The de facto autonomous Kurdish administration is northeastern Syria has warned it does not have capacity to detain so many people, let alone put them on trial.

But many of the suspected jihadists’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks and a likely public backlash.

Some have even withdrawn citizenship from their nationals detained in Syria.

“There has to be coordination between us and the international community to address this danger,” Abdel Karim Omar said.

“There are thousands of children who have been raised according to IS ideology,” he added.

“If these children are not reeducated and reintegrated in their societies of origin, they are potential future terrorists.”

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed