Syria’s Kurdish-led administration calls for international collaboration on ISIS trials, child protection, youth rehabilitation

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The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) once again urged the international community to cooperate and provide support to facilitate the initiation of legal proceedings to prosecute members of the Islamic State (ISIS) in order to achieve justice at both local and international levels.

In particular, the AANES expressed deep concern in their statement about the plight of children born to ISIS detainees. The administration highlighted the urgent need to establish specialised centres for the rehabilitation and reintegration of the young people into society, stressing that the families of ISIS are themselves victims of the extremist ideologies propagated by the fundamentalist group. The AANES argued that rehabilitation was essential to prevent these children from becoming future threats to global security. The Government stressed that any delay in addressing this problem would only exacerbate its gravity.

The administration reiterated a commitment to combating the ongoing threat of ISIS resurgence, even after the group’s in March 2019 defeat in its last stronghold. AANES highlighted the sacrifices made by the people of northern and eastern Syria, with more than 15,000 people losing their lives in the fight against ISIS. “Their fight was in the name of the whole world,” the AANES said.

The announcement pointed to the challenges faced by the AANES in managing the detained ISIS members and affiliate detainees while simultaneously protecting the region from security threats, and stressed the need to secure additional resources and facilities to support operations.

The Autonomous Administration concluded by reaffirming a commitment to curbing the spread of extremist ideologies and safeguarding the interests of the region’s diverse components. It pledged to maintain an open and transparent approach, willingly sharing plans and initiatives with the international community and relevant organisations, ensuring protection of the children’s rights and futures.

On 10 June, the AANES had announced intention to prosecute foreign ISIS fighters detained in its prisons in accordance with international law. However, Badran Chia Kurd, co-chair of the AANES’s foreign relations department, said that the administration had received no international support to carry out the trials and was therefore preparing to set up the necessary courts and facilities on its own.

Since March 2019, when the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated the last ISIS stronghold of Baghouz, the AANES has repeatedly called on the international community to take responsibility for finding solutions to the issue of detained ISIS fighters. AANES has proposed initiatives for the establishment of an international tribunal or one with an international mandate.

The prolonged detention of foreign ISIS fighters without trial violates international law, analysts say, and represents a significant burden and challenge for AANES. Furthermore, the presence of these fighters, together with the large number of family members, mainly women and children, living in camps in northern and eastern Syria, contributes to the increasingly precarious security situation in the region.

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