Like rats fleeing a sinking ship, hundreds of foreign fighters for the Islamic State, seeing the writing on the wall, are massing in Syria’s Idlib province with plans to cross into nearby Turkey and find other ways to get back into the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
Several dozen former fighters have already made it across the heavily patrolled frontier to towns and cities in Turkey’s south in recent weeks, the Guardian has confirmed. Four Saudi Arabian extremists arrived in a southern Turkish community in early September after paying smugglers $2,000 each for the perilous journey past border guards who have shot dead scores of infiltrators this year alone.
The exodus of fighters from areas controlled by Isis to other parts of Syria and Iraq has continued throughout the past year, as the terror group has lost much of its former heartland to a concerted assault by Iraqi troops, forces allied to the Syrian regime and a US-led air coalition in both countries.
However, large numbers of militants and their families are now trying to leave the war-battered states altogether – posing significant challenges to a global intelligence community that, for the most part, views them as a hostile and unmanageable threat, and sees limited scope for their reintegration.
With the disillusioned fighters from other countries trying to repatriate to their homes, they are ripe for interrogation by intelligence agencies such as CIA, MI6, and France’s DGSE as they try to learn as much as they can about the inner workings of the shadowy and brutal terrorist organization.
But for the fighters defecting from the Islamic State, no free rides should be given to these “fighters”. The only reason they’re defecting is that things are going badly for the IS. These stories of being disillusioned with the IS is very self-serving. It will be interesting to see if their countries of origin welcome back these people who swore allegiance to ISIS
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