Hundreds of defectors from Islamic State (IS) have massed in Syria’s Idlib province, with many planning to cross the nearby Turkish border and find ways back to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, The Guardian reported.
'Several dozen Islamic State militants have already made it across the heavily patrolled frontier to towns and cities in Turkey’s south in recent weeks, the Guardian has confirmed' the report said. Four Saudi Arabian extremists arrived in a southern Turkish community in early September after paying smugglers $2,000 each for the perilous journey past border guards who have shot dead scores of infiltrators this year alone, the report said.
A Saudi national who fled Syria in late August told the Guardian that as many as 300 former Islamic State members, many of them Saudis, had established a community north of Idlib city, which is now dominated by the al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra.
"In Idlib, there are around 300 people trying to escape. Many of them are Saudis," the 26-year-old, who called himself Abu Saad was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Abu Saad said he would not return to Saudi Arabia if doing so meant a prison sentence.
Tens of thousands of Islamic State jihadists are believed to have been killed since mid-2014, and thousands more homegrown jihadist are believed to have returned to their communities. But the numbers of foreign jihadists who have survived and are looking to return to their homes have been more difficult to gauge, the report added.