India is investigating the whereabouts of dozens of its citizens who allegedly left for the Middle East to fight alongside Islamic State (IS), an official said Thursday, almost a week after U.S.-backed forces declared the “total liberation” of the terror outfit’s stronghold in Syria.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), India’s top counter-terror unit, has launched an investigation to “ascertain the dead or alive status and locations” of more than 50 Indian nationals who joined IS in the Middle East after the group’s emergence in 2014, an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs told BenarNews.
“The NIA investigation is on to probe their whereabouts,” Deputy Secretary (internal security) S.K. Chhikara said.
Without divulging details of the investigation, Chhikara said the NIA must contact the families of those who left for countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to join IS, whose so-called “caliphate” was collapsing due to sustained military assaults.
Last Friday, U.S.-backed militias claimed a historic victory over IS in the Syrian city of Raqqa, saying the extremist group had suffered a “brutal defeat” in what was its de facto capital for over three years.
“The United States is proud to lead the 73-member Global Coalition that supported this effort, which has seen ISIS’s so-called caliphate crumble across Iraq and Syria,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement last week, using another acronym for IS.
“Our work is far from over but the liberation of Raqqa is a critical milestone in the global fight against ISIS, and underscores the success of the ongoing international and Syrian effort to defeat these terrorists,” he said.
Of the more than 50 Indians who left the country to join IS in the Middle East and Afghanistan, at least 10 have been killed in battle, according to intelligence agencies. But the Home Ministry said New Delhi had yet to verify this claim independently.
“As of now, we are not aware of how many of them are dead or alive,” Chhikara said.
Full story: BenarNews
Akash Vashishtha and Rohit Wadhwaney
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