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What to do with the captured IS militants in Syria?

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State has so far not found a satisfactory solution to how to deal with the caliphate’s former fighters.

Katie Po Williams, Security one

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State is funding the massive expansion of a large prison camp in northeastern Syria. The move is aimed at reducing the chance of an explosion, but at the same time a signal that there is no better solution to deal with captured foreign and local militants.

The expansion will double the size of the current facility in Hasaka, which now houses three converted school buildings with about 5,000 inmates, said British Maj. Gen. Kevin Kopsey, the coalition’s strategic commander. The temporary prisons are run by the US-backed coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The International Coalition has provided funding and support for many years.

A spokesman for the UK Defense Ministry confirmed the UK funding for the Hasaka expansion, which Copsy described as a “very significant expansion”. When it is completed, the now congested and dilapidated facility will meet the standards of the Red Cross, he said.

Army officers have been serving since the fall of the ISIS caliphate in 2017 WarnedSTF prisons cannot be maintained indefinitely and experienced fighters can break bad facilities and return to the battlefield. But the coalition does not seem to have a better solution than expanding Hasaka, which is congested and run internally by prisoners. (…)

With prisons like Hasaka, President Biden caused a problem for his predecessor. Over the years, the question of what to do with the nearly 12,000 detainees in SDF custody has been dealt with by high-ranking officials with little success. Most of the detainees are from Iraq or Syria, but about 2,000 are so-called “foreign fighters” and a group that US officials say is the biggest problem.

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The United States has not succeeded in persuading European allies, including Britain, to bring these militants back to their own courts. The British snatched British citizenship from British ISIS militants, which is why the United States prosecuted two British-born ISIS militants in October in its own courts. (…)

But local militants are also a challenge. The organization that holds them – the SDF – is not an internationally recognized government, which makes an official justice system impossible. Some of them have been tried in Iraqi courts, but these advanced tests have been criticized for loopholes in the law. (…)

65,000 or more women and children in an IDP camp in northeastern Syria is a separate but less worrying issue. The humanitarian situation in al-Hole is dire, and the military is deeply concerned about the escalation of those trapped there. IS women working in the camp are particularly concerned about spreading the ideology of network and group violence.

(From the article “The coalition plans to expand the giant ISIS prison in Syria“It simply came to our notice then. Translation by Alexander Grooper.)