A senior US military official warned on Saturday of the threat of an “army” of Daesh detained in Iraq and Syria, after a visit to prisons and camps where suspected jihadists and their relatives are detained. “While visiting the detention center, I saw the imminent threat posed by this group of detained Islamic State fighters,” the head of the US military command for the Middle East (Centcom), the head of the United States said in a press release. General Michael Kurilla.
He visited several detention centers this week, including that of Ghwayran in Hassaké, in northeastern Syria, where hundreds of people were killed after jihadists stormed it in early 2022, according to the communicated. “Between those detained in Syria and Iraq, it is a veritable IS army in detention. If released, this group would pose a great threat to the region and beyond,” he said.
Very few repatriations
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, dominated by Kurdish fighters) and Ghwayran prison administrators described inmates as “unrepentant, likely to become further radicalized […] and like a ticking time bomb,” according to Centcom. The SDF, backed by an international coalition led by the United States, spearheaded the fight against ISIS driven from its strongholds in Syria in 2019, after a meteoric rise in power in 2014 and the conquest of vast territories in this country and in neighboring Iraq.
Tens of thousands of people, including relatives of jihadists, were detained over the following years in camps run by Kurdish forces. Despite repeated appeals from the Kurdish administration, most Western countries refuse to repatriate their citizens from these camps, contenting themselves with repatriations in dribs and drabs for fear of possible terrorist acts on their soil.