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Syria Kurds say they hold 900 foreign Daesh fighters

By AFP - Oct 11,2018 - Last updated at Oct 11,2018

Syrian rebel-fighters with the National Liberation Front stand on a hill overlooking regime-held areas in northwestern countryside of Aleppo province on Tuesday (AFP photo)

QAMISHLI, Syria — Syrian Kurdish forces battling the Daesh group hold around 900 of the organisation’s foreign extremists, a spokesman said on Thursday, a sharp increase from a previous figure.

In lengthy battles against Daesh in the war-torn country, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have rounded up thousands of alleged Daesh members, Syrian and otherwise.

“Around 900 Daesh terrorists are in our jails... from 44 countries,” YPG spokesman Nuri Mahmud said.

That is a sharp rise from the figure of 520, given by another Kurdish official last month.

“The war is ongoing and until now we are arresting terrorists,” Mahmud explained, referring to ongoing battles against Daesh in eastern Syria.

“The numbers have increased over the past months from the battles between our forces and Daesh,” he said.

Kurdish authorities have said they will not put any foreign extremists on trial, and repeatedly called on their home countries to take them back.

But Western countries, reeling from Daesh-claimed attacks on their own soil, have been reluctant.

“Most countries have been flouting their responsibility,” Nuri said.

According to Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar, Syrian Kurds also hold 550 women and around 1,200 children from the families of Daesh members.

Alleged fighters are usually detained in jail, while women and children are held separately in camps.

Daesh seized large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, declaring a so-called “caliphate” in areas they controlled.

But multiple offensives in both countries have since decimated that proto-state.

In Syria, the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces last month launched a battle to expel the extremists from their last eastern redoubt of Hajin near the Iraqi border.

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