PENTAGON - An American citizen fighting for Islamic State in Syria is in U.S. custody after surrendering to coalition-backed Syrian fighters.
“Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) turned over an American citizen who surrendered to SDF on or around Sept. 12,” Defense spokesman Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told VOA on Thursday.
Defense Department personnel have detained the American as “a known enemy combatant” and say they will transport the captive “humanely,” according to Rankine-Galloway.
“We will pursue ISIS fighters regardless of nationality,” he added, referring any further questions to the U.S. Justice Department.
There are conflicting reports as to where the American terrorist fighter turned himself in, with some saying the fighter surrendered in Raqqa and others saying he did so in Deir el-Zour.
Meanwhile, coalition-backed fighters battling Islamic State in eastern Syrian do not intend to enter the city of Deir el-Zour, a U.S. military spokesman said, lessening the potential for clashes between coalition partners and Syrian government forces there.
“The plan right now is not to go into the city,” U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, told reporters Thursday via video conference from Baghdad.
The Syrian army recently broke an Islamic State siege of Deir el-Zour and are still fighting ISIS terrorists, who have had three years to set up defenses in the area.
The latest advances place the Syrian army within about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) of the SDF.
Dillon said the coalition's Arab and Kurdish local partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are focused on their offensive to take and clear the nearby Khabur River valley from Islamic State. He said the SDF would keep pressure on Islamic State and eventually push “further on down the Middle Euphrates River Valley” into the cities of Mayadin and Abu Kamal.
“There are plenty of ISIS fighters and resources and leaders that continue to have holdouts throughout the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” Dillon said.