Islamic State group has 'army' of fighters detained in Iraq, Syria: US military
The thousands of Islamic State fighters, also known as IS or ISIS could rejoin the militant group if they were able to escape, according to a statement from CENTCOM, the US military command responsible for the Middle East as well as Central and South Asia.
"There is a literal 'ISIS army' in detention in Iraq and Syria," CENTCOM commander General Michael "Erik" Kurilla was quoted in the statement as saying.
"There are, today, more than 10,000 ISIS leaders and fighters in detention facilities throughout Syria and more than 20,000 ISIS leaders and fighters in detention facilities in Iraq," Kurilla said.
"The January 2022 ISIS prison breakout in Al-Hasakah, Syria is a reminder of the risk imposed by these prisons."
CENTCOM End Of Year Update on Defeat-ISIS Operations pic.twitter.com/ixkq1oTRlp— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 29, 2022
The statement further said that children imprisoned at the Al-Hol camp in Syria are "prime targets for ISIS radicalization" and are the "potential next generation of ISIS."
The Islamic State group proclaimed itself as a 'caliphate' following a meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014 that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory.
It was eventually defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist group still carry out attacks in both countries.
The United States and its allies killed nearly 700 suspected members of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq in 2022, and detained a further 374 in Iraq and Syria, according to CENTCOM.
"The mission to defeat ISIS will continue in 2023 as CENTCOM and its Coalition partners remain committed to the enduring defeat of the terror group in order to maintain and enhance global security, stability, and human rights," the CENTCOM statement concluded.