The US military has been transferring dozens of captured ISIS foreign fighters from Syria to their countries of origin, according to multiple US defense officials — however hundreds of foreign fighters remain in detention in Syria.
US military aircraft are helping to return the captured fighters to their countries of origin, according to two US defense officials.
The US-led military coalition fighting ISIS has repeatedly declined to comment on the repatriation of foreign fighters.
“There’s nothing more that I could tell you about any efforts to repatriate them. That’s an issue for national governments,” the deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, UK Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, told reporters last week.
“What I can tell you, though, is that the Syrian Democratic Forces have done a remarkable job in capturing and continuing to detain these individuals that remain a threat globally, and specifically to our countries,” Gedney said.
While many of the countries who have received detainees have chosen to keep quiet about the repatriations, the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that the Republic of Macedonia had taken custody of a group of foreign fighters.
“Today’s transfer of Foreign Terrorist Fighters to their country of origin, Macedonia, marks a significant milestone in the much-needed cooperative effort to combat the global threat of terrorism,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN.
“The Department of Defense commends Macedonia for repatriating its citizens who have been detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces following their capture while fighting for ISIS,” he added.
This story will be updated.