Coalition says fate of foreign fighters detained in Syria up to each country
The fate of 700 foreign fighters detained in Syria as part of the campaign against "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) militants will be up to each of their countries to decide, Canada's defense minister said Thursday (December 6th).
The prisoners are being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which seized swaths of northern and eastern Syria from ISIS in a months-long assault backed by coalition air support.
The detainees hail from some 40 countries, according to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
"Every nation will have to go through their own due process on this," said Harjit Sajjan, speaking after a meeting of the coalition members in Chelsea, near the Canadian capital Ottawa.
He added that much investment had gone into ensuring their detention facilities were "in accordance with our standards".
Coalition states are wary of bringing home nationals detained in Syria because of difficulties in gathering evidence from a war zone and the threat of returning extremists radicalising domestic inmates.
Western nations say they want to "stabilise" the region to avoid a resurgence of ISIS and continue to fight its propaganda while attacking its networks. The aim of Thursday's talks was to firm up those plans.
"There is still work to be done," said Mattis.
The coalition gathering brought together defense ministers and representatives from the top 13 military contributing nations known as the Restricted Group, which includes Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and the US.