Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria have handed to Italy one of its citizens accused of belonging to ISIS, a spokesman said on Saturday.
“Italian jihadist Samir Bougana (aka Abu Abdullah) who had been captured fleeing ISIS and had been imprisoned since then, was handed over to Italian government,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
He said the transfer had been made on Rome’s request.
He did not specify when it took place or whether or not the suspected extremist had already left the country.
Bougana – also known as Abu Hureyre al-Muhajir or Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir – was first captured by Kurdish fighters in Syria in August 2018 as he tried to flee into Turkey.
He had allegedly been involved in weapons shipments to ISIS.
His transfer is part of a wider effort by the Kurdish administration to rid itself of the dregs of the ISIS proto-state.
Following the collapse of the group’s “caliphate” in March, alleged ISIS fighters from nearly 50 countries have been detained in Syria and Iraq.
Over 11,000 of their family members are being held in Syria’s al-Hol camp alone.
But repatriation is a sensitive issue for Western nations such as France and Britain, which have experienced attacks by homegrown extremists and have little interest in seeing more return.
There are also worries that it could prove difficult to successfully prosecute fighters in European courts for crimes committed in Iraq or Syria.
Britain has gone so far as stripping ISIS members of citizenship, while France has said it will repatriate only orphans.
The United States, however, has urged Western countries to take their nationals back and has repatriated some of its own, including three ISIS group fighters and several American women and children.
On Thursday, it warned European countries they were making a “bad decision” by leaving their nationals in Syria instead of repatriating them to face justice.
Also last week, the United Nations’ rights chief called for countries to repatriate Syria-based family members of suspected foreign fighters, including some 29,000 foreign children of ISIS extremists.