Huge numbers of IS recruits galvanised by Western air strikes

By staff writers
September 28, 2014

IS has recruited more than 6,000 new fighters since the US began targeting the violently militant group with air strikes in August 2014.

That is the conclusion from research carried out by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) NGO.

Some 1,300 or more of the new IS recruits are said to be foreigners who have joined the organisation from outside those areas of Syria and Iraq that it currently controls, reports SOHR.

The US and its allies have launched more than 200 strikes against IS. The United Kingdom and France have also weighed in recently, with British MPs voting overwhelmingly for bombing.

A number of rebel commanders who oppose IS while continuing to fight the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad have warned that the strikes are increasing local support for the jihadists.

The progressive Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported yesterday (27 September 2014) that "IS runs aggressive social media-led recruitment campaigns in the Middle East and targets youing Muslims in the West with slick English-language propaganda videos and digital magazines.

"The bulk of the foreign fighters who have signed up in the past six weeks are aged between 15 and 20-years-old and have never been involved in a conflict before, according to Abdurrahman Saleh, a spokesman for the Islam Army, part of the Islamic Front rebel group."

IS now receives approximately 20 new recruits a day in the town of north-west Syrian town al-Bab alone, Saleh told The Times. There are "hundreds" of other towns in Syria seeing a similar level of arrival, he added.

"Many of the jihadists are believed to enter Syria across the porous border with Turkey after arriving at the popular tourist airport Antalya on budget airline flights," says Haaretz.

"Experienced fighters from areas like North Africa and Chechnya receive a monthly wage of up to $980 (3,570 shekels) a month, according to Hussam al-Marie, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army. Professionals, such as doctors and surgeons, receive even more."

[Ekk/3]

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