Countries must take responsibility for their foreign fighters, U.S. says

Countries must take responsibility for their foreign fighters, U.S. says
From CBC - February 13, 2018

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis urged reluctant allied nations to address a growing problem by taking responsibility for their citizens who have been detained as foreign fighters for the Islamic State group in Syria.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Mattis said following a conference of defence ministers in Rome that discussed the issue without resolving it.Some governments have expressed little interest in having such militants returned.

"We are gathering up hundredsof detainees," Mattis told reporters traveling with him.

"The important thing is that the countries of origin keep responsibility for them. How they carry out that responsibility, there's a dozen diplomatic, legal or whatever ways. But the bottom line is, we do not want them going back on the street."

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are currently holding thousands of ISIS detainees, including hundreds of foreign fighters from a number of nations. Last week, they announced they'd captured two notorious British members of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria cell who were commonly dubbed "The Beatles" and were known for beheading hostages.

Asked specifically about Britain's move to revoke the citizenship of the two fighters, Mattis repeated his admonishment that countries "bear some sense of responsibility" for their citizens.

"The most important thing is we figure out how we are going to deal with this," Mattis said.

U.S. military officials have confirmed that El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, who grew up in London, were captured in early January in eastern Syria.


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