Growing desertions as ISIL loses ground: experts

Experts say that growing numbers of foreign fighters are deserting the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), AFP reported Friday (June 10th).

ISIL, which is losing ground on several fronts in Syria and Iraq, also is battling to prevent foreign fighters in its ranks from giving up the fight and going home.

"They sense that we have entered the final stage. Many are starting to send us messages to know how they can return," said France's national intelligence co-ordinator, Didier Le Bret.

"Expanding the glorious caliphate is no longer on the agenda and we know that some have been killed while trying to flee," he added.

Patrick Calvar, head of the domestic intelligence agency DGSI told the National Assembly in mid-May that 244 people had returned to France from Syria and Iraq, with "more and more (expressions) of intention to return home".

But many of those who wanted to defect were "prevented by ISIL policy, which considers those who want to leave Syria as traitors to be immediately executed", he said.

In January 2014, a study by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King's College London set up a database of returning fighters, to try to understand their motivations.

ICSR director Peter Neumann said four main complaints emerged from their testimonies: "'ISIL is more interested in fighting fellow Muslims than the Assad government', 'ISIL is involved in brutality and atrocities against Muslims', 'ISIL is corrupt and un-Islamic' and 'life under ISIL is harsh and disappointing'."

ISIL's recent losses in Syria and Iraq may also spur the homeward movement. Scores of ISIL fighters have been killed on various fronts, according to monitors.

Some returnees also complain that ISIL discriminates among its fighters on the basis of country of origin.

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