Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (center left) and United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis (center right) co-hosted a meeting of the top 13 military contributing nations to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on December 6, 2018, in Ottawa. Photo: Canada National Defence
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The future of more than 700 fighters being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will need to be determined individually by their country of origin, explained Canada's defence minister said on Thursday.
After meeting with 13 of his top counterparts in the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters there is no single coalition policy on dealing with the detainees from around 40 countries.
"Every nation will have to go through their own due process on this," Sajjan said speaking in Chelsea near Ottawa, according to AFP.
Much investment ensured their detention facilities were "in accordance with our standards," he added.
Canada is one of 79 members of the anti-ISIS coalition. As ISIS is routed from the battlefield in Syria, many detainees are captured by the primarily-Kurdish SDF and held in detention facilities in northern Syria, or Rojava.
Countries in the coalition have various policies on how their justice systems will or will not handle those in custody. Some prefer for justice to be carried out in Syria, although that is complicated as the Assad regime has little presence in northern Syria.
Additionally, many of the captured foreigners include wives and children of ISIS members and their assistance to the extremist group varies.
Sajjan and his US counterpart James Mattis released a joint statement after the meeting.
"Our Coalition has liberated more than 99 percent of the territory it once held, but there is still work to be done," it read.
With the exception of the Hajin pocket in Syria near where the Euphrates crosses into Iraq, ISIS holds little territory in either country. The group's remaining fighters, however, have transformed tactics, reverting back to al-Qaeda style suicide attacks and assassinations of security personnel.
"We will continue to adapt and strengthen our global network to counter ISIS's own network of foreign terrorist fighters, financing and propaganda," added the joint statement.
After more than six weeks, the SDF restarted ground operations against ISIS near Hajin and reportedly broke through
ISIS frontlines this week.