Disenchanted Islamic State (ISIS) members recruited from the West have increasingly been contacting their governments and asking for help in getting home, according to diplomats and a Syrian network that aids defectors.
Some have turned up at diplomatic missions in Turkey, and others have sent furtive messages to their governments seeking assistance in escaping from territory the extremist group controls in neighboring Syria, according to the diplomats, who represent six Western missions in Turkey.
The calls for help from Westerners come as ISIS loses ground and faces fresh assaults on its Raqqa stronghold and on Fallujah, Iraq, where it has ruled for more than two years.
Some Westerners seeking to escape from ISIS are fighters, and others are people who were enticed to move to the group’s so-called caliphate and declared their loyalty, and now find themselves in dire straits, the diplomats said.
“Their troops are now starting to leave. There are a lot of French people who are coming back,” France’s national intelligence coordinator, Didier le Bret, said at a recent security conference. “They’ve got a feeling it’s not going that well.” He said citizens of other European countries are also returning.
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