US calls on countries to take ISIL prisoners from Syria
WASHINGTON – Reuters
The U.S. State Department on Feb. 4 called on countries to take in foreign fighters captured by YPG in Syria, two days ahead of a meeting in Washington of dozens of coalition partners fighting ISIL to discuss the way forward in Syria.
The department’s spokesman, Robert Palladino, did not say how many prisoners had been detained by the illegal PKK’s Syria branch YPG - but U.S. officials believe they number about 850.
The United States has long said it wants to see the fighters returned to their countries of origin in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to face prosecution.
“The United States calls upon other nations to repatriate and prosecute their citizens detained by the YPG,” Palladino said.
U.S. officials say there has been a slight uptick in the number of foreign fighters in custody as U.S.-backed YPG militants retake the last remaining Islamic State-held areas.
The issue is likely to be raised today at the first high-level meeting of allies since President Donald Trump’s announcement in December that he was pulling U.S. forces from Syria.
A Pentagon adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity said the State Department statement reflected the dilemma about what to do with the prisoners created by the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
“This was a problem created by surprise with an ill-coordinated and ill-considered announcement of complete U.S. withdrawal from Syria,” said the Pentagon adviser. “We now have precipitated a crisis because our allied counties were not expecting to have to bring back home their foreign fighters.”