A new report of the New York Times (NYT) revealed that the around 1,000 fighters of ISIS are currently detained in about seven jails of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria. According to the report, which was released on July 18, 593 of the captives are foreign fighters who came to join the terrorist group from 47 countries around the world including France, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Morocco.
The NYT revealed that personnel of U.S. Special Forces visit these jails multiple times each week to “offer expertise about how to secure and run them, and to help process new captives using biometrics and interrogation.”
Furthermore, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen visited the SDF’s jails last week. Both Senators expressed their satisfaction with the condition of the jails, which are funded by the U.S., according to the NYT.
“The jail is better than I thought it would be. The people running it are better than I thought they would be … But now I’m worried about the larger situation. It’s not really as sustainable as I thought it was. The detainees are going to be out on the street — or dead,” Graham told a reporter of the New York Times.
The fate of the imprisoned ISIS fighters remains unclear to this day. The report said that the SDF has abolished the death penalty, which means that the Syrian terrorists will remain alive as for now. Regarding the foreign fighters, the SDF can’t hand them over to their countries or charge them as the US-backed group is not recognized as a sovereign government. Due to this they will likely remain in these jails.
Previously, many reports accused the U.S. of cooperating with commanders and fighters of ISIS. This included alleged evacuations of ISIS members from the ISIS-held area to northeastern Syria, strikes on Syrian government forces during their key battles against ISIS (for example in Deir Ezzor) and others.
This high number of ISIS captives in the hands of the SDF raises concerns that when these persons are freed by some reason, a new wave of ISIS-linked or “post-ISIS” activity may soon be observed in some key regions around the world.