151 Belgian IS fighters died in Syria, security services estimate
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    151 Belgian IS fighters died in Syria, security services estimate

    Most of the fighters left for Syria in 2013 and 2014. Credit: Belga

    Security services estimate that 151 of the 426 Belgian IS fighters that have gone to fight in Syria since 2012 have been killed. 

    This means 295 of them are still there, Home Affairs minister Pieter De Crem (CD&V) said in a response to a letter from Barbara Pas (Vlaams Belang). 

    Most of the fighters left for Syria in 2013 (144) and 2014 (134). The number dropped to 56 in 2015 and then to just four in 2017. One more person left for the Syrian warzone in 2018, but no-one has headed there so far this year. 109 of the known fighters appeared to have died by 2016. Another 15 were recorded dead in 2017, then 11 in 2018 and 14 in 2019. 

    There is no way to be absolutely certain about the deaths. “We don’t have exact information on the origins of the death announcements. Only two were verified by a Syrian doctor,” the minister said, while admitting that a large number of Syrian fighters who were believed to be dead later turned out to still be alive. 

    This was the case for Abedallah Noumane, who is currently being held in a Kurdish prison in Haska, in the north of Syria.

    Sarah Johansson

    The Brussels Times