NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — In a trial aired by Al-Hadath TV in August 2019, 22-year-old Syrian Mohammed Khalil al-Hassan, a fighter in the Islamic State (ISIS), facing charges of membership in a terrorist organization as argued by the Public Prosecutor of the People’s Trial Authority of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria.
During the trial, al-Hassan admitted to joining ISIS and participating in the “Battle of the Fog” in Tel Brak against the People’s Protection Units (YPG). He also mentioned the abduction of 15 Assyrian children, women, and elderly from a village next to Tel Abyad, along the Syrian-Turkish border, who were then transported to the town of Al-Hol north of Raqqa.
Al-Hassan added that while he was in Al-Hol, he contributed to the crimes committed against the Yazidi people.
Al-Hassan admitted that he joined the ranks of ISIS of his own free will and left it of his own volition. After leaving ISIS, he moved to the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, where he was eventually arrested by the Syrian military. He was subsequently released after one day in detention due to the lack of evidence of his identity. Al-Hassan then moved to the areas around Deir ez-Zor under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) where he was arrested.
Al-Hassan expressed no remorse or regrets at the conclusion of his trial and stated that those who insult his dignity will come to regret it. Despite knowing that his request would not be granted, al-Hassan requested he be released from custody.
Throughout the trial, al-Hassan acted as his own counsel, refusing to be represented by an appointed lawyer.
Some 5,000 Assyrian Christians have been displaced from areas in North and East Syria. ISIS kidnapped nearly 250 Assyrians from dozens of families in the Khabur Valley. Three of those abducted were confirmed executed. The fate of two others remain unknown.
The DAA has conducted a series of trials of Syrian nationals who joined ISIS and is discussing with the international community a way to try foreign ISIS fighters in Syria through international trials based in North and East Syria.
It was announced that the DAA would begin trials themselves if no adequate and timely solution was found with international partners.