BEIRUT

Middle East

Jihadist Islamic State has 50,000 members in Syria: NGO

An Islamic State fighter keeps guard as people, who according to them are employees of the Islamic State hired to monitor and check the quality of goods in markets, throw confiscated products in central Raqqa August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIRUT: The jihadist Islamic State has more that 50,000 fighters in Syria and recruited 6,000 last month alone, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The group, which relies on activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground in Syria for its reporting, said July saw the Islamic State's largest recruitment yet.

"The number of IS fighters has passed 50,000 in Syria, including 20,000 non-Syrians," the group's director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

"July saw the largest recruitment since the group appeared in Syria in 2013, with more than 6,000 new fighters," he said.

There was no way to independently confirm the figures.

Abdel Rahman said the new recruits in July included more than 1,000 foreign fighters from Chechnya, Europe and Arab countries, as well as Chinese Muslims.

He said most had entered Syria from Turkey.

Other recruits included defectors from the ranks of other armed opposition groups, including 200 from the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra Front.

The Islamic State grew out of Al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch, but has since parted ways with the group.

It initially cooperated with some of the armed opposition in Syria, but its abuses against rival rebels and civilians sparked a backlash that began this January.

 

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