US Backs Killing ISIS Foreign Fighters

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A fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on a rooftop in Raqa on October 20, 2017, after retaking the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. SDF fighters flushed jihadist holdouts from Raqqa's main hospital and municipal stadium, wrapping up a more than four-month offensive against what used to be the inner sanctum of ISIS's self-proclaimed 'caliphate,' which for three years saw some of the group's worst abuses and grew into a center for both its potent propaganda machine and its unprecedented experiment in jihadist statehood.
A fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on a rooftop in Raqa on October 20, 2017, after retaking the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (Photo: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Foreign fighters who have travelled to Syria to join and fight for the Islamic State must die in Syria, a leading envoy to the global coalition against ISIS has said.

“Our mission is to make sure any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, they will die here in Syria,” Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, told media, as reported by The Daily Mail.

His remarks came after Kurdish-led forces captured the ISIS capital of Raqqa last week.

“So if they’re in Raqqa, they’re going to die in Raqqa,” McGurk added.

McGurk’s announcement follows that of French Defense Minister Florence Parly. “What we want is to go to the end of this combat, she told reporters, “And, of course, if jihadists die in the fighting, then I’d say it’s for the best.”

The British also agree.

“They are absolutely dedicated, as members of the Islamic State, towards the creation of a caliphate,” Rory Stewart, Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“They believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an 8th Century, or 7th Century, state. So I’m afraid we have to be serious about the fact these people are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately, the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”

“These are people who are executing people in the back of their heads, who have held women and children hostage, who are torturing and murdering, trying by violence to impose their will. Our response has to be, when somebody does that, I’m afraid, to deal with that.”

A British government spokesperson clarified that Stewart’s remarks were in line with the government’s position.

The United States is leading the effort against the terrorist group in collaboration with 73 countries worldwide. With ISIS on the brink of defeat, policy makers are looking to the future.

“With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight,” President Trump said on Saturday. “We will soon transition into a new phase in which we will support local security forces, de-escalate violence across Syria, and advance the conditions for lasting peace, so that the terrorists cannot return to threaten our collective security again.”

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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