'Operation Roundup' Begins in Syria; 'Global Solution' Needed for Foreign Fighters

By Susan Jones | May 9, 2018 | 7:26 AM EDT

British Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, briefs Pentagon reporters via satellite on the effort to defeat the ISIS, May 8, 2018. (Screen capture/Defense TV)

(CNSNews.com) - A British commander working with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq said on Tuesday that mop-up operations are underway to clear the final ISIS-held territory in eastern Syria.

"This increased defensive action to destroy ISIS marks the beginning of Operation Roundup, which is the coalition name for the operations to destroy ISIS in the final areas where they hold ground east of the Euphrates River and liberate the last of their fake caliphate," U.K. Army Major-General Felix Gedney told reporters at the Pentagon via video link.

"We and our partners will continue to pursue ISIS and get them off the battlefield wherever they try to hide within our area of operations."

Gedney said morale among ISIS fighters is sinking and "frictions are mounting" between native and foreign-born ISIS fighters.

Gedney said there is a higher proportion of foreign fighters on the battlefield right now, because they are unable to melt into the population the way a Syrian or an Iraqi fighter can do. "So what we're left with is a hard core of foreign fighters in those remaining areas that ISIS holds."

Meanwhile, Syrian Democratic Forces are holding more than 400 foreign fighters in detention centers in northern Syria, Gedney said. "But what we need to do now is to ensure those hundreds of foreign fighters that are being held by the Syrian Democratic Force cannot be a threat either regionally or globally in future."

A reporter asked Gedney if he is concerned about the SDF's long-term ability to detain so many foreign fighters, whose countries don't want them back:

In the short term we're not concerned," Gedney said. "The Syrian Democratic Forces have shown themselves to be both a highly effective force and a highly responsible force in detaining those terrorists that we've captured on the battle -- they've captured on the battle space.

"In the medium to long term, we have to find a global solution to the problem of these fighters to make sure that they cannot become a threat again. So yes, in the long term, we do have concerns."

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