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Blinken urges coalition partners to repatriate Islamic State fighters in Syria

At a gathering in Riyadh of the global alliance to defeat IS, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked partners to repatriate their detained citizens and announced new funding for stabilization work in Iraq and Syria.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan (R) escorts US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as they arrive for a meeting with GCC Ministers at the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh on June 7, 2023.

RIYADH — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged countries to take responsibility for their citizens suspected of joining the Islamic State and whose detention in northern Syria risks creating a new generation of militants

Four years after IS lost its last remaining territory in Syria, tens of thousands of suspected fighters and their families are packed into makeshift detention centers and camps in northern Syria under the control of US-backed Kurdish fighters who say they lack the resources to indefinitely hold them. 

Of the nearly 10,000 suspected IS fighters in detention, 2,000 are from countries other than Syria and Iraq. Some governments have dragged their feet or flat-out refused to repatriate their nationals stranded in northern Syria, including at the squalid al-Hol camp for women and children in Hasakah province. 

“Repatriation is the only durable solution,” Blinken said Thursday at a gathering in Riyadh of the global alliance to defeat IS.  

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