ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United States on Monday called on countries to bring home hundreds of Islamic State members captured in Syria.
“The United States calls upon other nations to repatriate and prosecute their citizens detained by the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] and commends the continued efforts of the SDF to return these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin,” State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said on Monday.
“Facing the extraordinary challenge of fighting a brutal enemy in a disciplined manner, the SDF has demonstrated a clear commitment to detain these individuals securely and humanely,” Palladino added.
So far, European states have been reluctant to bring back Islamic State fighters or women, and children that are stuck in Syria.
Abdul Hamid al-Muhabash, the co-chair of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) in northeastern Syria, told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday that the number of Islamic State fighters captured has now surpassed 1,500 due to the recent operations in Deir al-Zor.
However, until now, only four countries with the help of the US-led coalition, have taken back Islamic State fighters, the DAA official said.
Many EU countries fear that due to the lack of evidence, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home.
Nevertheless, since the US withdrawal decision, there is more pressure on European countries to take back their citizens who joined the Islamic State.
The French Foreign Ministry previously said Islamic State fighters would be prosecuted if Syrian Kurds deport them.
However, Muhabash said this is not realistic, and that France should bring their citizens back.
“They should be prosecuted in their own countries, since they have committed crimes against the people of Northern Syria, and we have around 8,000 [SDF] martyrs who were killed at the hands of ISIS.”
Courts in both Belgium and the Netherlands recently ruled that their respective governments should bring back many women accused of membership in the Islamic State and their children.
The Dutch government on Friday indicated they are looking for options to coordinate with Syria’s Kurds for the return of these women and their children.
However, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country’s officials wouldnot pick up the women and bring them to the Kurdistan Region, but added he respects the court’s decision.
“We do not want to expose Dutch people to danger,” Rutte stated. “We will bring people to a safe area” in the Kurdistan Region.
According to Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch’s terrorism and counterterrorism director, “the current status quo for foreigners held by the SDF is not sustainable.”
“Children should be able to reintegrate normal lives. For the adults, those who committed crimes should be prosecuted and granted fair trials. Home countries should help in this by taking their nationals.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany