SDF Call For An International Tribunal For ISIS Militants


Following the defeat of ISIS, the SDF have called for an international, "Hague-style" court system where ISIS militants can be tried. However, the move has so far gained little traction from international actors.

While the operations to defeat ISIS militarily in Syria are over, the fall-out from the liberation of Baghouz and other cities continues to be felt in the region. During the months-long operations, over 5,000 ISIS militants surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in addition to the women and children who evacuated the city before the launch of the operations.

The militants and their families, who were identified and placed in special prisons and camps set up by the SDF, are still waiting to learn their fates.

Although much discussion took place in February, as significant numbers of foreign fighters surrendered during the conflict, no solutions have been proposed thus far.

Many countries have expressed their intention not to allow any ISIS militants who hold their citizenships to return to their countries. As a result, this has left the SDF and other authorities unable to move forward with their cases.

While countries like Tunisia, Iraq and Morocco have shown their willingness to repatriate foreign militants so that they can be tried and rehabilitated, other countries have declined this solution.

As a result, following the defeat of ISIS in Syria, the SDF called on countries around the world to set up an international tribunal, similar to The Hague, in Syria, to try the captured foreign militants. The SDF said that this proposal is not an attempt to rid them of any responsibility towards the militants, but rather due to the refusal by other countries to take them back.

Furthermore, the SDF have said that trying them where they committed their crimes and according to International Law will help the victims in the region feel like they have finally received justice for the suffering that they endured since 2014.

However, this solution was quickly rejected by the US Special Representative to Syria, James Jeffery, who said they have no intention even to study this solution at the moment but will attempt to renew the call for countries to repatriate their citizens captured in Syria.

With no accepted solution regarding the fate of captured militants, many worry that these militants, some of which continue to hold their allegiances to ISIS, will pose another threat to the region.