Increasing numbers of disenchanted Western ISIL fighters are appealing to their governments for help to return home, diplomats have reported.
As fighting around ISIL’s strongholds intensifies and the group begins to lose swaths of territory, foreign jihadists are trying to defect in record numbers.
More than 150 from six countries have in the past few months contacted their embassies in Turkey, which neighbours the Islamist group’s territory in Syria and Iraq. Western officials said they had received calls from inside Raqqa, ISIL’s self-styled capital, and even messages requesting help smuggled out on scraps of paper, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It is thought that up to 1,700 French jihadists have returned home from fighting in Syria and Iraq since 2012. Britain and Germany have both seen around 800, a major cause for concern for European intelligence agencies.