ISS: Twenty individuals with links to Estonia may be in Syria war zone

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Internal Security Services (ISS) headquarters in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Around twenty people with ties to Estonia are in or have been in the Syrian Civil War conflict zone, the Internal Security Services (ISS) reported in its 2020/2021 Yearbook, which published Monday.

Individuals include both those who wish to fight on ideological bases, as well as spouses or potential spouses of Syrian nationals or those of neighboring countries, where the multi-faceted civil war has often spilled over, including Iraq.

Returning to Estonia for such individuals in the near future is unlikely, the ISS reported, while there are a few cases of people wishing to travel to the region even now.

The current unrest in Syria began ten years ago and has seen the official Syrian Arab Republic's forces joined by allies, including from the Russian Federation, in a conflict with forces of the Syrian opposition, Turkey, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and others.

The ISS says that it aims to halt any further travel to the region; traveling for terrorist purposes has been a criminal offense, carrying a prison sentence of up to five years, since 2019.

"Not only are enthusiastic and radicalized Islamists ready to fight, but more than a thousand women have left Europe, including from Estonia, to reside with their husbands or to get married in the Syrian-Iraqi conflict zone," BNS quotes the yearbook as stating.

The ISS also urges family, friends, workmates and acquaintances of any individuals who may be thinking of traveling to the region to come forward, in order to resolve the issue.

The new ISS Yearbook's full text is at the bottom of the article here.

Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) personnel are deployed to Iraq itself, including as part of the NATO Mission in Iraq.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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