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ISIL: Militia Groups

Volume 596: debated on Tuesday 9 June 2015

10. What estimate he has made of the number of UK citizens volunteering to fight in militia groups against ISIL. (900184)

Given the volatile situation in Syria, it is difficult to ascertain exactly the number of British nationals who are fighting in militia groups against or for ISIL without the risk of being inaccurate. We advise against all travel to Syria and parts of Iraq and do not want British nationals taking part in the conflict on either side. There are ways to support the Syrian people more effectively and get aid to where it is most needed.

A young and quite vulnerable Newark man with autism has recently been recruited to fight with the Kurdish peshmerga through their foreign legion, the Lions of Rojava, who recruit—somewhat indiscriminately —through Facebook and websites. While we all stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave peshmerga, will the Minister urge the Kurdish Government to exercise greater caution and, in particular, to review those websites?

I am sorry to hear about the case of my hon. Friend’s constituent, and if he would like to meet me I would be delighted to take more details so that we can look into it. I will be visiting the countries shortly and I will seek in Irbil to see how a better process can be established to understand who is coming into the country.

The Minister will be aware that Cardiff, like many parts of the UK, has been afflicted by young people being attracted to fight for ISIL. What steps is the Foreign Office taking with the Turkish authorities to help to close that route into that part of the world?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the meeting in Paris last week, where 20 of the 60 nations came together to work on the five key themes, one of which is countering the movement of foreign fighters, including the sharing of information between countries—including Turkey.