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Alleged Italian IS member held in Syria, say Kurds

© 2018 AFP

13 September 2018

Kurdish fighters in northern Syria detained an alleged Italian member of the Islamic State group as he was trying to flee across the border to Turkey, they said Thursday.

The People's Protection Units (YPG) have captured several foreign IS fighters since the jihadists' so-called caliphate collapsed nearly a year ago.

"On August 27, a mercenary called Semir Bogana was captured as a result of a special operation conducted by our Anti-Terror Units, when he was trying to flee to Turkey," said the YPG.

It said Bogana -- an Italian citizen known also as Abu Hureyre al-Muhajir or Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir -- was responsible for weapons shipments to IS.

There was no immediate reply from the YPG to a request for additional details.

At the peak of its "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, IS attracted thousands of foreigners to join it.

But it has since lost almost all of its territory, including its de facto capital in Syria, the northern city of Raqa.

Since then, US-backed forces have been detaining foreign IS members in both Syria and Iraq.

Among their most infamous detainees are Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh, two survivors of a four-man IS unit that saw foreign journalists and others tortured and beheaded.

They had been dubbed "The Beatles" because they were British.

French IS members were also arrested in the months after Raqa's fall, including Adrien Guihal, Emilie Konig, and Thomas Barnouin.

The fate of the foreigners, including whether they are handed over to their national authorities, is a controversial topic as some countries appear unwilling to extradite nationals who fought with IS in Syria.

Last month, Washington said two Americans accused of supporting IS had been handed over to US authorities by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the YPG.

Lebanese members of IS have also been transferred to Beirut.