| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

US urges Western allies to repatriate Daesh families held in Syria

The US has urged its Western allies to repatriate foreign Daesh fighters and their families from Syria, warning that the camps they are being held in are breeding another generation of extremists.
John Godfrey, special envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, said victory over the extremist group on the battlefield would be wasted if Western countries did not take responsibility for repatriating and, where necessary, prosecuting their citizens who are being held in camps.
“This is an international problem that requires an international solution.  There are more than 60,000 individuals in Al-Hol, from dozens of nationalities, the vast majority of whom are children,” Godfrey said during a special briefing on Monday.
“We urge the international community to consider how they might support both humanitarian agencies who are providing to those populations now, as well as consider the repatriation of their own citizens in order to help relieve the burden on our local partners,” the special envoy added.
Godfrey said that there are about 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters being held in north eastern Syria by Kurdish forces in detention centers while there are 10,000 associated family members to these fighters who are staying in displacement camps.
“We have been engaged for several years now in urging countries of origin, including European partners, to repatriate and rehabilitate and, where it’s appropriate and feasible, to prosecute both foreign terrorist fighters but also, critically, their associated family members,” Godfrey said.
The Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria has been a cause for concern due to assassinations and breakout attempts.
Kurdish authorities have warned that Daesh fighters are hiding out among camp residents and the situation in the settlement could become increasingly dangerous.
Kurdish forces said on Tuesday that they had arrested 53 suspected Daesh members at the Al-Hol camp in an anti-terror security operation.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the launch of the sweep in the camp on Sunday.
“Preventing future generations of Daesh from growing at the camp will ensure the enduring mission to defeat Daesh,” Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the US-led coalition, tweeted.
Britain has repatriated a small number of orphans of its citizens from the campaign but has refused to allow entry to children still accompanied by their families.
The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said its priority was “to ensure the safety and security of the UK. Those who remain in the conflict zone include some of the most dangerous individuals, choosing to stay to fight or otherwise support Daesh.”