Red Cross Urges Countries to Handle ISIS Fighters in a Fair and Lawful Way

The International Committee for the Red Cross is urging countries to handle captured ISIS fighters according to international legal standards, in the wake of the extremist group’s loss of its so-called capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The flow of foreign fighters to Syria, where thousands of would-be ISIS fighters flocked in recent years, has shown signs of reversing. The group once had tens of thousands of fighters at its command; last week, U.S. officials estimated that 3,000 to 7,000 were continuing to fight in Iraq and Syria.

NPR’s Ruth Sherlock reports:

“In a call with journalists, Patrick Hamilton, the [ICRC] deputy regional director for the Near and Middle East, urged countries to deal with nationals who joined ISIS according to the rules of international humanitarian law.

“Many countries have not yet found a clear mechanism by which to determine the fate of returnees. Hamilton noted that there is ‘extremely tense’ and ’emotional’ rhetoric around this question. But, he said, the ‘law does offer a sober mechanism for dealing with this.’ “

Hamilton’s remarks came days after Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the coalition fighting the terrorist group, was quoted by multiple news outlets saying, “Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, they will die here in Syria.”

McGurk has also spoken about the importance of controlling the flow of fighters back to other countries — and tracking their motions.

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell