Russia has the Most Foreign Fighters Joining ISIS in Syria, Report Claims

Published October 24th, 2017 - 07:58 GMT
ISIS fighters are fleeing Syria and Iraq in recent months (AFP)
ISIS fighters are fleeing Syria and Iraq in recent months (AFP)
  • Russia now holds the top spot for the number of foreign ISIS fighters on the battlefield at 3,417
  • Tunisia has the highest number of fighters who've fled the terror group in recent months
  • The news comes after it emerged that Western governments have not shown concern for their citizens in Raqqa
  • “If the jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best,” French defense minister Florence Parly said.

    Russia is now the top exporter of foreign ISIS fighters in the region, according to a U.S.-based NGO group.


The news comes after it emerged that scores of Tunisian fighters have fled or been killed since the last count in 2015.

Back then there were 6,000 ISIS fighters who hailed from the North African country, according to the D.C.-based Soufan group.

However, the new figures show that this number has dropped by more than half to 2,920 putting the North African country in fourth place.

Meanwhile, Russia now holds the top spot for the number of foreign fighters on the battlefield at 3,417, according to the latest data.

This compares with 2400 fighters in 2015.

Saudi Arabia is in second place and now boasts 3,244 fighters in ISIS ranks, an increase compared with the 2015 estimate of 2,500.

Jordan (3,000), and France (1,910) also hold spots in the top five list.


The Soufan Group report designates Tunisia as the country with the top number of ISIS returnees as 800 Tunisians have deserted the group and returned home.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has 760 ISIS fighters who have returned from the horrors of war.

Britain, Jordan, and France have all seen more than 200 fighters return home as bombing campaigns intensified in Syria and Iraq.

The number of returnees will undoubtedly cause headaches for security services in their respective countries.

The news comes after it emerged that Western governments have not shown concern for their citizens in the final days of the battle for Raqqa.

“If the jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best,” French defense minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio last week.

Meanwhile, U.S. military chiefs also pledged to kill foreign fighters rather than send them home.

“Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined Isis from a foreign country and came into Syria, they will die here in Syria,” said Brett McGurk, the top US envoy for the anti-Isis coalition, in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Aan television.

“So if they’re in Raqqa, they’re going to die in Raqqa,” he said.


The comments have drawn widespread criticism from rights groups who believe that the fighters should be put on trial.

Meanwhile, U.K. Minister for International Development Rory Stewart said British ISIS fighters should expect to be killed as they are a serious threat the country’s security.

"They are absolutely dedicated, as members of the Islamic State, towards the creation of a caliphate,” he told the BBC.

"They believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an 8th Century, or 7th Century, state. So I'm afraid we have to be serious about the fact these people are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately, the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them," he added.


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