The last remnants of ISIS militants have been captured in Baghouz. Many of them express regret for having joined the militant group.
As the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the International Coalition, continues its advance towards the city of Baghouz, in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zour Province, more ISIS fighters continue to flee the militant group’s last enclave.
Since the launch of the operations, hundreds of ISIS fighters have been arrested and held in special guarded camps.
While many fighters tried to flee the city disguised as civilians, others have turned themselves in to the advancing forces.
The fighters who surrendered have expressed their regret for joining the militant group, saying they did not know the reality and brutality of ISIS until they had joined, and by then, it was too late to leave.
“If I knew that this was the so-called Islamic state, I never would have come. We lived in fear, we were afraid of everything,” said Yousif al-Wagheyr, a Moroccan national who joined ISIS. “The so-called Islamic state has deemed everyone a disbeliever and the people have turned away and no longer want to fight; that’s what I saw.”
Since the launch of operations against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, many of those who were arrested have claimed that the reality of ISIS is far from the image that they portray to those they recruit.
Since the inception of the so-called Islamic State, the militant group has made it a goal to recruit foreign fighters. However, now that it is defeated in Iraq and is facing defeat in Syria, most of the remaining fighters have no way of escaping back to their countries. As a result, this has created a massive issue for many countries whose nationals are seeking repatriation after joining the group.
This was significantly highlighted with the case of Britain’s Shamima Begum, who escaped the UK when she was 15-years-old to join ISIS and was denied return after she was arrested by the SDF.
Experts say that the issue of ISIS returnees will cause a security problem for many countries, if not dealt with immediately and effectively.