ISIS Syria only stamped out where U.S forces are present – Official claims

“ISIS elements are still very active to the south of the Euphrates,” Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS James F. Jeffrey warns.

August 3, 2019 09:54
3 minute read.
ISIS Syria only stamped out where U.S forces are present – Official claims

A man walks near an advertisement calling on people to join the Syrian military forces, in Damascus, Syria November 12, 2015. The text on the billboard reads in Arabic: "Our army means all of us, join the armed forces.". (photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)

Roughly 1,200 ISIS fighters are now in Europe, warns Nathan A. Sales, the US State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism – and that more terrorists, inspired by what he called the ISIS “brand,” are trying to cross borders, according to an official US State Department report released on Thursday.

To ensure this won’t happen, he said, the US must help front line states to carry out UN Security Council Resolution 2396, which calls on them to use screening tools like bio-metrics and watch lists to prevent dangerous individuals from crossing borders and importing terror. 

“The Russians... deny many things that we believe are facts,” Sales said regarding Syria and the various operations Russian forces are doing there. 

“We’ve helped broker a handful of ceasefires there; they keep on falling apart and the bombing continues,” added Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS James F. Jeffrey.

The anti-ISIS coalition includes 80 nations. iIn Syria, the US mainly works with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); in Iraq it works with the Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga forces, which are mostly Kurdish.

In northeast Syria, ISIS is suffering from diminutions of capabilities, Jeffrey said, but that’s “only where we are.” The jihadist group is still active, however, in Idlib and south of the Euphrates.  

Roughly 10,000 ISIS fighters are now held by the SDF in Syrian prisons. Some 8,000 of them are Syrian and 2,000 are Iraqi citizens;  work is underway to ensure that the Syrians face trial and the Iraqis are brought to Iraq for the same purpose.

Roughly 70,000 people, both immediate and extended family members, are related to those captured – and are now in the al-Hawl displaced persons camp in northern Syria, close the Iraqi border. 

About 10,000 people in the camp are related to the 2,000 foreigners who came to serve ISIS. 

Sales mentioned Kosovo and Kazakhstan as two countries that were able to bring back their own citizens who once fought for ISIS with their families, prosecuting the terrorists for crimes while rehabilitating and re-integrating their family members and children.

He added that former fighters in Syria are held in make-shift prisons, and it would be better if they are placed in proper prisons in their own countries, as they may try to escape. 

In that, too, the US is leading by example, Sales said. Four American males and one female were flown to the states to stand trial for what they did in service of ISIS. So far, one of these five was convicted. 

About a dozen Arab-Israelis are reported to have fought in the ranks of ISIS in Syria and are currently being held in captivity. It is unclear whether Israel has an official policy about them and their future.

One of these men, Sayyaf Sharif Daoud, addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly in Hebrew in a video released in earlier this month.

“I am an Israeli citizen. I know that you are PM of a democratic country," he said, "you do not discriminate between Arabs, Jews and Druze.”

WHILE ISIS had taken on much of the world’s focus, al-Qaida had rebuilt itself and is as strong as ever, Sales warned. 
He emphasized that ISIS is still active in Afghanistan as ISIS-Khorasan, in Egypt, the Islamic Maghreb and the Sahel region in Africa. 

In March, world media reported that Shamima Begum, who ran away from London to join ISIS as a teenager, wanted to return to the UK to offer her baby a chance to survive. Her previous two children died due to poor nutrition and the lack of medical care in Syria. The baby eventually died, the BBC reported. 

Begum was stripped of her British citizenship when it was discovered that she has Bangladeshi citizenship and so would not become stateless by the British action against her.

Begum said she does not regret joining ISIS and that the horrors she has seen in Syria have not made her rethink her values.

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