clear
Monday October 22nd, 2018 4:47PM

Mattis: Allies must take responsibility for Syria detainees

By The Associated Press

ROME (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged reluctant allied nations to address a growing crisis by taking responsibility for their citizens who have been detained as foreign fighters for the Islamic State group in Syria.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Mattis said following a conference of defense ministers in Rome that discussed the issue without resolving it. Some governments have expressed little interest in having such militants returned.

"We're gathering up hundreds...of detainees," Mattis told reporters traveling with him. "The important thing is that the countries of origin keep responsibility for them. How they carry out that responsibility, there's a dozen diplomatic, legal or whatever ways. But the bottom line is, we don't want them going back on the street."

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are currently holding thousands of IS detainees, including hundreds of foreign fighters from a number of nations. Last week, they announced they'd captured two notorious British members of an Islamic State cell who were commonly dubbed "The Beatles" and were known for beheading hostages.

Asked specifically about Britain's move to revoke the citizenship of the two fighters, Mattis repeated his admonishment that countries "bear some sense of responsibility" for their citizens.

"The most important thing is we figure out how we're going to deal with this," Mattis said.

U.S. military officials have confirmed that El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, who grew up in London, were captured in early January in eastern Syria.

U.S. officials have interrogated the men, who were part of the IS cell that captured, tortured and beheaded more than two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.

Mattis was asked if the U.S. would take any detainees or if the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility was a possible option. He said he wasn't willing to talk about that.

The priority now, Mattis said, is to "define the problem and then we'll get the solution." He said there's a need for an accurate count of detainees and where they are from. He said there is not a "one-way forward" for all the detainees right now - just the sentiment they must be taken off the battlefield.

There are no known Americans among the detainees. But a U.S. citizen who surrendered to U.S.-backed forces in Syria is being held in Iraq amid a protracted legal fight over his fate.

Most of the foreign fighters are from the region, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Hundreds fought alongside IS in recent years as it seized large parts of Syria, raising concerns they'll commit terrorism at home if they return.

Mattis met in Rome with defense ministers from about a dozen other nations participating in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The meeting coincided with a coalition gathering of diplomatic leaders in Kuwait, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP World News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Israel military court trial closed for Palestinian protester
Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi has gone on trial behind closed doors in an Israeli military court for slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers
2:11PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Gates turns attention toward poverty, growing inequity in US
The world's foremost philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates, say they're turning some of their attention to American poverty issues
2:02PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Giant schnauzer aims for giant prize at Westminster dog show
Big steps for giant schnauzer could lead to dogdom's mighty prize at Westminster
1:40PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
After slow start, banks and retailers lead stocks higher
Stocks shake off a slow start and turn higher as banks and technology companies climb, while retailers including Under Armour and Amazon also make gains
1:38PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Trump considering 'all options' on steel, aluminum cases
President Donald Trump is looking for advice from a range of lawmakers as he considers whether to issue trade sanctions on aluminum and steel imports
1:34PM ( 59 minutes ago )
Trump's high-spending budget reverses longtime GOP dogma
Trump's own budget director says if he were a still a member of Congress he probably wouldn't vote for the very budget plan he hawked Tuesday before to the Senate Budget Committee
1:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Reports: Russian contractors killed by US strike in Syria
An unknown number of private Russian military contractors were killed by a U.S. strike in Syria, Russian media reported Tuesday in a development that could further inflame Russia-U.S. tensions
1:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
Haiti leader: UK aid workers violated 'basic human decency'
Haiti's president has condemned the British charity Oxfam for a sexual misconduct scandal in his country
1:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
Russia: Human error, faulty sensor behind deadly plane crash
Investigators say that the crash of a Russian passenger plane that killed all 71 people on board may have been caused by the pilots' failure to activate heating for pressure measurement equipment, resulting in flawed speed data
12:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Israel military court trial closed for Palestinian protester
Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi has gone on trial behind closed doors in an Israeli military court for slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers
2:11PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Gates turns attention toward poverty, growing inequity in US
The world's foremost philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates, say they're turning some of their attention to American poverty issues
2:02PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Giant schnauzer aims for giant prize at Westminster dog show
Big steps for giant schnauzer could lead to dogdom's mighty prize at Westminster
1:40PM ( 53 minutes ago )
After slow start, banks and retailers lead stocks higher
Stocks shake off a slow start and turn higher as banks and technology companies climb, while retailers including Under Armour and Amazon also make gains
1:38PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Flurry of Grand Canyon copter tours may be factor in crash
An aviation attorney says one factor in a helicopter crash at the Grand Canyon that killed three British tourists could be the company's pressure to meet demand for the popular sightseeing tours
1:35PM ( 58 minutes ago )