The trials for foreign Islamic State (ISIS) members in Kurdish-led northern Syria will help to reveal the fate of over 130,000 missing individuals dissapeared during the Syrian conflict, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) said on Monday in a statement calling for international support for the recent prosecution initiative by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
The council, a political coalition in the AANES, welcomed the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to establish an independent institution responsible for uncovering the fate of individuals who have gone missing or been forcibly disappeared in Syria.
The SDC praised the resolution as a step in the right direction, despite being long overdue, and acknowledged the concerted efforts of human rights and humanitarian organisations that worked tirelessly for years throughout the Syrian crisis to uncover the fate of missing people.
The SDF offered to provide “all types of support and assistance to all initiatives and efforts that aim to end the Syrian crisis and alleviate the suffering of Syrians”.
UN’s landmark resolution, which coincided with an Arab-led effort to resolve the Syrian crisis, was adopted on 29 June by an agreement of the majority of 83 votes, with 11 votes against it and 62 abstentions, including 13 Arab countries.
While commending the UN decision, the SDC also criticised “certain countries that continue to manage and exacerbate the Syrian crisis… Their actions undermine its security and stability, promote violence, hatred, terrorism, and extremism, as witnessed in the recent Astana meeting,” the statement read.
According to the SDC the only effective approach to solving the Syrian crisis is through the participation of all Syrians, without exclusion or discrimination against any party or faction.
On 10 June, the AANES announced an intention to put foreign ISIS fighters detained in its prisons on trail, in compliance with international law. However, AANES Foreign Relations Department Co-chair Badran Chia Kurd disclosed that the administration had received no international support in holding the trials and therefore is preparing to set up the necessary courts and facilities independently.
Since March 2019, when the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated the last ISIS stronghold, Baghouz, the AANES has consistently appealed to the international community to assume responsibility for finding solutions to the issue of detained ISIS fighters. The AANES proposed initiatives for the establishment of an international court or one with an international mandate.
The prolonged detention of foreign ISIS fighters without trial violates international law and presents a significant burden and challenge for the AANES. Furthermore, the presence of these fighters, along with the large number of family members, predominantly women and children, residing in camps in North and East Syria contributes to the increasingly precarious level of security in the region.