US-backed Syrian forces call for international tribunal to try ISIS prisoners

More than 5,000 ISIS militants have been captured since January, say Syrian Democratic Forces

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / TOPSHOT - Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walk in the village of Baghouz in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border on March 24, 2019, a day after the Islamic State (IS) group's "caliphate" was declared defeated by the US-backed Kurdish-led SDF.  / AFP / Delil souleiman
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US-backed forces in Syria on Monday called for an international court in the country to try suspected ISIS militants.

Two days after the Syrian Democratic Forces declared victory over ISIS after capturing Baghouz, the final piece of territory held by the extremists, the group called for international support to establish a special tribunal in Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria.

In this way, "trials can be conducted fairly and in accordance with international law and human rights covenants and charters", the SDF said.

Syria's Kurds have warned that the thousands of foreign militants the SDF have detained are an urgent problem the global community must address.

The forces said more than 5,000 militants, Syrian and foreign, have been captured since January.

More than 9,000 foreigners, mostly children, linked to ISIS are living in the largest displacement camp in north-east Syria.

There more than 6,500 children in Al Hol camp, Luqman Ahmi, official spokesman for the Kurdish authorities, told AFP.

The Kurdish administration in north-eastern Syria says it does not have capacity to detain so many people.

But the home countries of ISIS members are reluctant to take them back because of security risks and probable public backlash.

"The Kurdish administration in north-east Syria has appealed to the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards members of the terrorist organisation detained by Kurdish security forces," it said on Monday.

"But unfortunately, there was no response."

There are several precedents for such tribunals created by the international community.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda tried genocide cases in the African country, while the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia tried those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s.

Despite announcing the defeat of the ISIS "caliphate" on 23 March, the SDF continued operations on Sunday, clearing explosives in Baghouz and arresting a number of militants hiding in tunnels.

The US-led coalition said the clearance operations would promote a return to stability.

"The SDF will continue to deny Daesh a physical space and influence in the area, and work to deny them the resources they need to return," it tweeted.

"This back-clearance operation will be deliberate and thorough, and help to ensure the long-term security for the area."