The Syrian Kurds have said they will hold trials for Islamic State fighters from over 50 countries, including around 30 from Britain, after being exasperated by the failure to reach international agreements on what to do with them.
The Kurdish-dominated administration in northeastern Syria said it is holding 1,000 male fighters in overcrowded detention and 4,000 other ISIS women in refugee camps, many of whom are accused of being involved in the terrorist group’s crimes.
Local authorities had hoped to make agreements with western governments and others to repatriate fighters and other accused persons before their home country or to establish an internationally recognized tribunal.
But there has been no significant progress since Isis lost the last of her territory almost a year ago. On Thursday, the Syrian Kurdish Ministry of Foreign Affairs unilaterally stated that it would start prosecuting people.
Fener al-Kait, deputy minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “This is an international crisis and an international solution must be found. Unfortunately, many states have not responded to our appeals. “
Unlike neighboring Iraq, the Syrian Kurdish administration has said it will not impose the death penalty on former ISIS fighters. Those guilty of war crimes will be sentenced to life imprisonment. Frontline fighters could receive sentences of up to 20 years, although that would mean an expensive detention in a region that is recovering from the fierce Syrian civil war.
Britain has refused to return adults from Syria and has stripped British citizenship of anyone who considers a dual nationality. This includes Shamima Begum, who left East London to join Isis as a teenager and remains in a refugee camp in the country.
Begum has appealed against the deprivation of citizenship and a ruling on his case is expected on Friday. He escaped from the UK at the age of 15 to live under Isis with two friends, and later gave birth to three children, all of whom have died since then.
Other British or former British prisoners in the region are believed to include Shahan Choudhury, who left London in 2014. He said he acted as an undertaker during the last phase of Isis, burying the victims of the conflict.
Another is Hamza Parvez, a former London police cadet, who joined Isis in 2014 and appeared in online propaganda videos urging other Britons to travel and join in the early stages of the self-designed caliphate.
Kurdish forces from Syria helped to remove Isis from Syria. His military provided ground forces that eliminated the group’s grip on the territory in March last year, but were unable to transform it into a strong diplomatic or security position.
They suffered a significant setback when the President of the United States, Donald Trump, allowed Turkey to invade the border region of northern Syria in October. Ankara then established a security zone in which Syrian Kurdish forces were excluded.
The conditions in prisons, where there are a handful of guards and little space for prisoners, are cramped and unhealthy. There are fears that could become fertile ground for future extremism.
The Syrian Kurds hope that if Western fighters begin to try foreign fighters, they will provide extra money to secure their detention, even if this has not been done in the past.