WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The foreign fighters traveling to conflict zones to battle against Daesh and other jihadist forces are predominantly military veterans recruited from the United States, a new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) revealed on Tuesday.
“Anti-[Daesh] fighters were recorded from 26 countries around the world, with the overwhelming majority (98.7%) originating from Western or European countries. The single largest cohort were from the US, which accounted for 114 (38.0%) of the fighters within the database,” the report said.
More than half of the anti-Daesh fighters are joining Kurdish parties — 31 percent have enlisted with the Syrian-Kurdish YPG and 22 percent are fighting alongside the Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga.
The report found a large number of the foreign fighters were US military veterans, motivated to fight independently against Daesh abroad over frustrations with US handling of foreign policy. They expressed a desire to “finish the job” against a foreign enemy, and also a sense of isolation and not belonging in their community.
The report concluded that the legality of becoming a foreign fighter or mercenary against Daesh can vary country by country.
In 2015, the US State Department distanced itself from reports of American mercenaries in Syria and Iraq saying their actions are “neither in support of nor part of US efforts in the region.” The US government has not issued any official condemnation against American foreign fighters combating Daesh.