Airstrikes aren't the only thing increasing in Syria: foreign fighters are also on the rise

Published December 9th, 2015 - 11:11 GMT
2015 saw a surge of foreign fighters entering Iraq, with Tunisians in the lead. (AFP/File)
2015 saw a surge of foreign fighters entering Iraq, with Tunisians in the lead. (AFP/File)

As international airstrikes intensify across Syria, the number of foreign fighters flooding in is also increasing, a report published this week shows.

US-based security consultancy firm Soufan Group's recent report estimates up to 31,000 foreigners are fighting in extremist ranks today, a number that's shot up two-fold in the last 18 months. 

Recruits from Wesern Europe has more than doubled during the same time frame, with the number from North Africa staying most the same. Those from Russia and Central Asia have gone up nearly 300 percent, according to the report. Fighters of Tunisian origins lead at 6,000, followed by Saudi Arabia with 2,500.

To give you an idea of this context, consider what else has been happening during the last 18 months. Two separate bombing campaigns have entered the Syrian conflict—the US coalition formed in September of last year, followed by Russia's entrance at the end of October 2015. 

Following the attacks in Paris last month, where Daesh-affiliated gunmen killed 130 people, French warplanes, already part of the US-coalition since last year, intensified bombing missions in Daesh's Syrian capital of Raqqa. Russia has also upped the anti in Raqqa, while the US military said it was essentially dropping bombs in Syria faster than it could replenish them, calling for more funding in the protracted fight against Daesh. 

Now, in the wake of Donald Trump's suggestion to ban all Muslims from the US and a growing number of Islamophobic attacks across Europe and the America, many experts say Daesh's radicalization efforts are only being helped along. 

See Soufan Group's chart below, via Twitter.


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