UN experts say 7,000 ISIS members still active in Syria, Iraq

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – There are still between 5,000 and 7,000 members of the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, said UN experts on Monday. 

The experts warned of the continued threat the group poses on Syria and Iraq despite its military defeat four years ago.

“The group has adapted its strategy, embedding itself with local populations, and has exercised caution in choosing battles that are likely to result in limited losses, while rebuilding and recruiting from camps in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic and from vulnerable communities, including in neighboring countries,” the experts said.  

ISIS lost its final stronghold in Syria in March 2019. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with the support of the US-led Global Coalition, defeated ISIS after fierce battles in the town of Baghouz in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, bringing an end to the so-called caliphate declared by the terrorist group.   

After Baghouz, thousands of ISIS militants were transferred to prisons, while their families were transferred to Hawl and Roj camps in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES)-held areas.

Issue of the family members of the ISIS held in camps in northeast Syria constitutes an ongoing challenge for the non-internationally recognized AANES, which repeatedly demands that the concerned countries repatriate their nationals.

Also, the AANES continues to call on the international powers to provide support for establishing rehabilitation centers and help in tackling the security situation in the facilities were ISIS foreign nationals are held.

Despite many calls, the majority of countries, including those participating in the Global Coalition, refuse to repatriate their nationals.

Despite its defeat, there are between 5,000 and 7,000 members across Iraq and Syria, “most of whom are fighters,” though it has reduced its attacks deliberately “to facilitate recruiting and reorganization,” the experts said.

By John Ahmad  

 

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