Syrian Kurds to try IS fighters after home country refuses to repatriate them

QAMISHLI, Syria (AP) — The Kurdish-led authority in northeastern Syria announced on Saturday that hundreds of Islamic State group fighters held in prisons in the region would face trial after their home countries refused to repatriate them.

The statement from the Autonomous Administration for North and East Syria says it still calls for the establishment of an international tribunal to try these fighters. He called on the United Nations, international rights groups and local organizations to help facilitate the trials.

The US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, holds more than 10,000 captured IS fighters in some 20 detention centers, including 2,000 foreigners whose countries of origin have refused to repatriate them. The statement said the fighters of around 60 nationalities entered Syria years ago and were captured in battles against extremists.

“The terrorist organization has committed horrific crimes and mass killings against people in the region,” he said, adding that such acts are considered crimes against humanity and war crimes. He said the trials will be “fair and transparent in accordance with international and local terrorism laws”.

The SDF and local Kurdish police known as Asayesh also oversee some 51,000 family members of IS fighters, mostly women and children in al-Hol camp. Many of these family members remain staunch IS supporters, and killings by militants have taken place in the camp over the years.

Saturday’s announcement came two days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken co-hosted a meeting in Saudi Arabia of foreign ministers from the global coalition fighting ISIS during which he announced nearly $150 million in new US funds for stabilization efforts in Syria and Iraq. The extremist group no longer controls any territory, but its affiliates still carry out attacks across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, as it is also known, includes more than 80 countries to coordinate action against extremists, which at their height controlled large parts of Syria and Iraq. Blinken said the US pledge was part of new funding totaling more than $600 million.

Blinken did not elaborate, but US aid to Syria is expected to flow through Kurdish allies, the United Nations or international aid groups, as the United States and other Western countries maintain sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Kurdish-led authority has not specified where exactly the trials will take place or when they will begin. They are believed to take place in areas controlled by the SDF in northeast and eastern Syria. The US military is present in the area controlled by SDF fighters.

Every day, there are at least 900 US troops in Syria, along with an undisclosed number of contractors.

US forces advise and assist the FDS, particularly in securing detention centers, and also carry out counter-terrorism missions against IS.

The Kurdish-led authority said years of fighting against ISIS left 15,000 dead and 25,000 injured among SDF fighters. ISIS was officially defeated in Syria in March 2019, when the extremists lost the last strip of land under their control, but their sleeper cells continue to carry out deadly attacks.

Last week, the SDF announced that it had handed over 50 Iraqi IS fighters to Baghdad. He also said he repatriated 170 Iraqis who were living in al-Hol camp.


Mroue reported from Beirut.

Leave a Comment