Posted on February 22, 2019
Hundreds of suspected former so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters could be released by Syrian Kurds unless they get help from other nations to detain them, the leader of the group has said. Ilham Ahmed, co-chairwoman of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces, told BBC Newsnight that the group could not be responsible for holding the former fighters in camps without assistance. “We can’t do it alone, it is very difficult,” Ms Ahmed explained. “We don’t have any support from anywhere and we only have limited resources if we are to keep them in the camps. We need specialist help in order to try and rehabilitate them. It is a big burden on us.”
The Syrian Democratic Council is administering the refugee camps housing those who have fled IS fighting, some whom previously joined the terror group according to Ms Ahmed. “It is a big problem because many prisoners and their families are also Isis supporters. Their kids have grown up with this influence as well as their wives. So we have to deal with the radicalisation they’ve been through and to rehabilitate them. We need a lot of support from the outside in order to do this. If we don’t get help from outside, yes we would have to let them go. We can’t keep them.” Ms Ahmed also said that Home Secretary Sajid Javid should allow Shamima Begum to return and face justice in the UK.
This comes after Mr Javid stripped the 19-year-old of her British citizenship. When asked about the case, she told the BBC programme: “We’re asking not only the UK, but all the other countries who have fighters in Isis to take their people back.” Ms Begum’s family has now written to the Home Secretary asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain.
Since 2014, RAF aircrew based in Cyprus have been flying near daily missions over Iraq and Syria as part of a coalition of nations fighting IS.