Syria Kurds host conference on IS detainees

AFP , Saturday 6 Jul 2019

Members of the local forensic medicine team inspect human remains found by the Raqa Civil Council (RCC)'s first responders at a mass grave site in the Fukheikha agricultural suburb about 10 kilometres away from the eastern Syrian city of Raqa on July 4, 2019. - Two hundred corpses, including those of people believed to have been executed by IS, were found near Raqa. The mass grave contained the bodies of five middle-aged men in orange jumpsuits of the kind typically worn by IS hostages, believed to have been killed more than two years ago. In February, an exhumation team had uncovered a mass grave holding an estimated 3,500 people in al-Fukheikha (Photo: AFP)

Dozens of international experts gathered in northeastern Syria on Saturday to discuss how to manage thousands of suspected Islamic State group members crammed into Kurdish-run prisons and camps.

French lawyers and US-based analysts were among those attending the three-day conference on the challenges still facing the region after IS's territorial defeat, organisers said.

Officials of the autonomous Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria, which is hosting the conference in the town of Amuda, were also due to take part.

In March, Kurdish-led fighters overran the last pocket of the jihadists' cross-border "caliphate" with support from a US-led coalition.

Now, the Kurds are struggling to cope with the thousands of alleged IS members they detained during the battle.

They include around 1,000 suspected foreign fighters held in jail, and some 13,000 family members in overcrowded camps.

With no local court equipped to deal with the large number of jihadist suspects, the Kurds have pressed their home countries to take them back.

But Western governments have been reluctant to repatriate them or put them on trial at home.

"There is global consensus that action urgently needs to be taken to deal with the thousands of foreign ISIS fighters and affiliates, plus ISIS-linked children, currently detained in northeast Syria," the organisers of the three-day conference said, using another acronym for IS.

"However, there is near-total lack of consensus as to what this action will look like."

Syria's Kurds have called for outside help to set up an international tribunal.

Iraq has offered to put suspected foreign jihadists on trial in Baghdad in exchange for millions of dollars, officials told AFP in April.

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