Western Daesh members seek Turkey aid to defect: US paper

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Growing numbers of disenchanted Western members of Daesh, fighting in Iraq and Syria, are trying to sever links with the Takfiri terrorist outfit, according to a report.

Citing diplomats representing six Western embassies in Turkey, the Wall Street Journal said many disgruntled militants are appealing to their governments through diplomatic missions in Turkey to return home.

A number of the extremists have fled militant-held areas in Iraq and Syria and approached missions in Turkey, while several others have sent messages to relatives in their homelands seeking help to escape, the report said.

The calls for assistance come as Daesh is rapidly losing ground in battles against the Iraqi and Syrian forces.

The diplomats said some of the would-be Daesh defectors are those who are fighting alongside fellow extremists in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Others are people who were lured into joining the terror network but now find themselves in dire straits, the Journal said.

Once Westerners make it to Turkey, intelligence officers detain and interrogate them for at least a month, before handing them over to the embassies of their home countries, according to the paper.

The diplomats said about 150 people have sought help to return to their home countries, noting that they don’t know whether to provide consular services to the defectors or view them as a potential threat.

Many of them have fought for a militant group and are likely to carry out deadly attacks similar to those in Paris and Brussels earlier this year.

Lisa Oudens Monaco, US Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, recently announced that there are now about 25,000 Daesh militants in Syria, and the number is 10,000 fewer than the previous year.

She added that there were an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters among the terrorists, and some 4,500 of them came from Western countries.

It is thought that around 1,700 French militants have returned home since 2012 after fighting alongside Daesh terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

Up to 1,600 extremist have also made their way back to Britain and Germany, with both countries sharing roughly the same number of 800.

“There are a lot of French people who are coming back,” France’s national intelligence coordinator, Didier le Bret, said at a recent security conference. “They’ve got a feeling it’s not going that well.”

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have widely been blamed for the deadly militancy in Syria through supporting militants with funds, training and weapons. Turkey also stands accused of being involved in an illegal oil trade with Daesh terrorists.

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