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Syria

Alleged Italian ISIS member held in Syria, say Kurds

By AFP 14/9/2018
Members of the PYD's Asayesh (security) patrol in Qamishli on September 8, 2018. Photo: Delil Souleiman | AFP
Members of the PYD's Asayesh (security) patrol in Qamishli on September 8, 2018. Photo: Delil Souleiman | AFP
QAMISHLI, Syria — Kurdish fighters in northern Syria detained an alleged Italian member of the Islamic State group as he was trying to flee across the border to Turkey, they said Thursday.

The People's Protection Units (YPG) have captured several foreign IS fighters since the jihadists' so-called caliphate collapsed nearly a year ago.

"On August 27, a mercenary called Semir Bogana was captured as a result of a special operation conducted by our Anti-Terror Units, when he was trying to flee to Turkey," said the YPG.

It said Bogana — an Italian citizen known also as Abu Hureyre al-Muhajir or Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir — was responsible for weapons shipments to IS.

The YPG makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurds and Arabs that spearheaded the fight against IS.

The detained Italian was currently being interrogated and "his fate will be determined at the end of the investigation," an SDF source told AFP.

"We are coordinating with the international coalition, which includes Italy, about all the Daesh detainees," he added, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

At the peak of its "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, IS attracted thousands of foreigners to join it.

But it has since lost almost all of its territory, including its de facto capital in Syria, the northern city of Raqa.

Since then, US-backed forces have been detaining foreign IS members in both Syria and Iraq.

Among their most infamous detainees are Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh, two survivors of a four-man IS unit that saw foreign journalists and others tortured and beheaded.

They had been dubbed "The Beatles" because they were British.

French IS members were also arrested in the months after Raqa's fall, including Adrien Guihal, Emilie Konig, and Thomas Barnouin.

The fate of the foreigners, including whether they are handed over to their national authorities, is a controversial topic as some countries appear unwilling to accept extradited nationals who fought with IS in Syria.

Last month, Washington said two Americans accused of supporting IS had been handed over to US authorities by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Lebanese members of IS have also been transferred to Beirut.

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