Middle East News

American “enemy combatant” transferred to US detention in Syria

A US citizen "enemy combatant" who surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday is being detained by Department of Defense personnel

A US citizen “enemy combatant” who surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday is being detained by Department of Defense personnel, a Pentagon official told Grasswire on Friday, September 15.


Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway did not confirm where the detainee is being held.


“Syrian Democratic Forces turned over an American citizen who surrendered to SDF on or around Sept. 12 to US forces.


“The US citizen is being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant.


“The individual is being treated humanely in accordance with our regulations.”


Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway


A spokesperson for the Coalition referred Grasswire’s queries about the detainee to the US military’s Central Command.


CENTCOM’s Chief of Media Operations, Major Earl Brown, gave Grasswire a similar statement to that from Maj Rakine-Galloway.


In response to questions, a State Department official referred Grasswire to Thursday’s press briefing by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.


Nauert said “I can tell you that we’re aware of that report that a U.S. citizen was detained. Beyond that, I just don’t have any specifics on that.”


Grasswire contacted the Department of Justice asking further questions but has not received a reply.

Earlier questions about detainees

Grasswire has been asking questions about procedures for detained ISIS fighters, including foreign fighters, for a for a number of weeks. Spokespersons for the Coalition have repeatedly told Grasswire that it is not responsible for detainee operations.


On August 18, in response to questions about Coalition questioning of ISIS fighters in Syria, a spokesperson told Grasswire that detainee operations are the responsibility of local authorities and that “if requested by the SDF,” the Coalition may question high-value detainees.

“No, detainee operations are the responsibility of local authorities. However, the Raqqah Internal Security Force has been trained by Coalition forces on basic small arms, the law of armed conflict, establishing check-points, maintenance, first aid, search techniques and screening.


“The Coalition is not responsible for detainee operations so it would be inappropriate for us to answers questions on this topic.


“Under certain circumstances, if requested by the SDF, the Coalition may have access to interview certain high-value detainees on a case-by-case basis.


“Detainees are handled by local authorities. For more information on detainee operations please contact the SDF, specifically the Raqqa Internal Security Force.”


CJTF-OIR spokesperson, August 18


Later in August, Grasswire asked questions about reports that a Tunisian fighter had been captured in Syria.




The questions were about investigation and judicial processes for foreign fighters and the notification of their national authorities, specifically for foreign fighters of Coalition nations, as Tunisia is.


In response to these questions, the Coalition referred Grasswire to “the SDF Ministry of Justice.”

The Coalition is not responsible for detainee operations in Iraq or Syria. In Syria, the SDF’s Ministry of Justice oversees the SDF’s detention operations.


“Though we can confirm that the SDF has made a commitment to following the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), the Rule of Law, and Human Rights, questions concerning the specifics of their administrative processes should be directed to the SDF Ministry of Justice.”


CJTF-OIR spokesperson, August 30



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