A number of jihadist militants on Sunday continued to defend their last square in eastern Syria, preventing civilians from fleeing, while US President Donald Trump urged Europeans to receive foreign jihadists detained in Syria.
These foreigners are British, French, German, Irish and Italian.
In recent years, the SDF have arrested hundreds of these militants during its battles with the extremist organization in Syria.
Today, SDF are about to declare victory, but the jihadist militants holed up in a pocket in the village of Baghuoz, less than half a square kilometer, are showing fierce resistance.
An Agence France-Presse team near Baghouz said it heard mortar shells fired by SDF, which were fired by coalition forces, and gunshots were heard amid a roar of aircraft circling the area.
The foreign militants’ fate, those who are detained by SDF has yet to be decided.
The men were placed in prisons, women and children in displaced camps.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to recover more than 800 fighters from the Islamic state organization we captured in Syria in order to try them”, Trump tweeted on Saturday night”.
The alternative will not be good because we’ll have to release them, “stressing that” the United States doesn’t want to spread these fighters in the organization of the Islamic state in Europe, which are expected to go to it”.
Local Kurdish authorities in Syria reject the prosecution of foreigners and demand that they be sent to their countries of origin.
But Western countries are generally hesitant about this, fearing a negative reaction from the public opinion.
Paris, Berlin and Brussels responded to Trump’s comments on Sunday.
“They (the French jihadists) are being held by the Kurds, and we are very confident that they will be able to keep them in custody”, French Interior Minister Laurent Nunez told AFP.
“In any case, if they return to the national territory, all of them have judicial proceedings underway and the law will be enforced and imprisoned”.
After hesitation, it seems that France is beginning to think about the return of its citizens.
A source close to the file said there were 150 French nationals there, including 90 minors.
Families and human rights groups are concerned that foreign jihadists may be transferred to neighboring Iraq, where hundreds of people have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment for joining the extremist group.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution”, calling for “quiet reflection and consideration of fewer security risks”.
“We’re currently in northern Syria, especially mothers and children, but also some well-known fighters”, he told VTR TV Channel.
In Germany, foreign ministry sources said Berlin was considering “options to enable German citizens to leave Syria, especially humanitarian cases”.
The file is particularly sensitive, with Trump’s pledge in December 2018 to withdraw US troops from Syria.
The decision, in addition to Turkey’s threat to launch an attack on Syrian Kurdish forces, raises concerns that the security chaos will spread, which would benefit jihadists.
The extremist organization was completely defeated after it announced in 2014 the “Islamic caliphate” on large territory stretching from Syria to Iraq, with major field losses in the last two years, after years of terror in its hard-line rules and brutal provisions and bloody attacks.
The jihadists established their own administration, which executed and tortured those who did not abide by their laws and incited bloody attacks around the world.
But they’re now controlling only a very small pocket in the province of Deir Al Zour (east) bordering Iraq.
The jihadists planted a large number of mines and dug tunnels to hide inside.
They periodically carry out suicide attacks and prevent civilians from leaving, according to SDF.
Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syria Democratic Forces, said that “the Islamic State Organization has closed all roads” from the area controlled by the Baghuoz, adding that more than 2,000 civilians may still be present.
He tweeted that the jihadists are trapped “in a few square meters and detain a number of civilians and refuse to release them”.
Since the beginning of December, some 40,000 people have fled the area under the control of the organization, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The organization is still able to move sleeping cells in liberated areas, and its fighters are deployed in the vast Syrian desert.
The battle against the organization is now the main front in the Syrian war, in which more than 360,000 people have been killed, millions displaced and millions displaced.
The Syrian government, assisted by its allies Russia and Iran, controls two-thirds of Syrian territory after winning victories against jihadists and opposition groups.