20:36 GMT18 May 2021
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    A growing number of foreign fighters are depleting the ranks of the Daesh terrorist group, as its self-proclaimed caliphate turns into shambles. There were reports that at least two British nationals and one US citizen has recently left the group and surrendered to Turkish border police.

    Meanwhile, dozens more were reportedly caught in the past few weeks, as they tried to cross the border. There are also an unknown number of fighters who are thought to have evaded capture and made it across the border into Turkey.

    Such a development comes as the Daesh’s capacity to hold ground in Syria and Iraq continues to collapse.

    Radio Sputnik spoke with Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum NGO.

    “This is not a new thing that the foreign fighters want to leave the Islamic State [Daesh] and it comes due to a variety of reasons. One reason is the military pressure that the group has faced. With that pressure, comes a reduction in benefits to the fighters. Also they might have realized that life under the terrorists isn’t what they thought it would be,” al-Tamimi said.

    He further said that for now it seems like it is mostly common foot soldiers who are trying to leave.

    “The leadership is perhaps more committed to fight towards the end and is prepared to accept a post loss of territory where you revert to some kind of insurgency state,” the analyst said.

    Talking about what kind of danger the deserters can pose after they return home, al-Tamimi said that some of them are leaving because they are genuinely afraid of being prosecuted for their crimes. While there are others that pretend to have left Daesh but may still be pledging allegiance to the group.

    “They could, in fact, be undercover operatives for the Islamic State attempting to conduct attacks in Europe for example,” the analyst said.

    He further said that the terrorist group has also emphasized that instead of collapsing, the group will have dedicated operatives that will conduct operations in the west.

    According to the analyst it is important to keep such a possibility in mind.

    In order to tackle the oncoming flow of deserters many are predicting an enhanced “intelligence war” in the west in order to uncover terrorists from mere civilians.

    Al-Tamimi said that currently the intelligence agencies feel overwhelmed by the number of people coming in and “lack of cooperation between these agencies leads to a shortage of their tracking capacity.”

    He said that it is urgent that different countries’ intelligence agencies cooperate with one another and tackle terrorism which poses a real threat not just to the Middle East but to Europe as well.

    Over the past few months, Daesh sustained substantial losses to government forces and their allies in both Syria and Iraq.

    Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian General Staff said that Daesh formations near the cities of Hama and Homs had been entirely defeated.

    The military added that the Syrian government forces also managed to establish complete control over Palmyra.


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