In Syria, IS in quiet last stand to defend dying 'caliphate'

In Syria, IS in quiet last stand to defend dying 'caliphate'

In Syria, IS in quiet last stand to defend dying 'caliphate'

IS declared a "caliphate" across large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, which at its height spanned an area the size of the United Kingdom.

The capture of the last pocket of IS territory in either Syria or Iraq would mark the end of a four-year global campaign to crush the extremist group's so-called caliphate.

To this end, President Trump has called on European nations to repatriate and put on trial 800 terrorists now being detained in Syria.

The SDF are moving cautiously on the jihadist holdout, saying ISIS is increasingly using civilians as "human shields" to block the advance. Yet Trump's tweet suggesting that the U.S. captured the ISIS fighters and the USA could release them is being met with criticism.

Maas said authorities would have to "check to what extent they were involved in fighting for IS, which would result in criminal proceedings having to be opened against them".

France will for now not act on US President Donald Trump's call for European allies to repatriate hundreds of Islamic State fighters from Syria, taking back militants on a "case-by-case" basis, its justice minister said today.

"The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them", he warned, referring to Daesh terror group.

Trump says if nations do not repatriate the militants the United States will be forced to release them. When that happens, the risk is high that "foreign terrorist fighters" will escape SDF control, posing a new threat.


Votel has said he does not expect President Donald Trump's withdrawal of more than 2,000 troops from Syria to significantly alter USA troop levels in Iraq, where the United States has more than 5,000 forces.

In Syria, "it is the Kurds who hold them (the French jihadists) and we have every confidence in their ability to keep them detained", French junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said.

The German Foreign Ministry has said it is unable to provide consular assistance to German detainees in Syria due to the security situation and absence of diplomatic ties with Damascus.

Four years ago IS controlled 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of territory stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq, proclaimed the creation of a "caliphate", imposed its brutal rule on nearly eight million people and generated billions of dollars from oil, extortion, robbery and kidnapping.

"Sleeper cells are on the move on a daily basis", Bali said.

A U.S. withdrawal risks leaving Syria's Kurds exposed to a long-threatened attack by neighbouring Turkey, who views Kurdish fighters as "terrorists".

Eight years into the conflict that has killed more than 360,000 people, President Bashar al-Assad's government controls almost two-thirds of the country.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the issue is "one of the greatest challenges ahead of us for the upcoming months". The suggestion that they might be released by President Trump does not appear to have been coordinated with the SDF but it illustrates USA concerns and desire to pressure Europe to do more.

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