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UN official: Sharp drop in number of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq

BRUSSELS, May 18 (KUNA) -- The flow of foreign terrorist fighters going to the area of the combating areas has decreased enormously, Jean-Paul Laborde, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, told a press conference in Brussels Thursday.
"Now we have estimated that the number of foreign terrorist fighters is 90 percent less in Iraq and Syria.
So it is an enormous amount of people who do not go to these places," he said.
The UN official added, over the past two years, there has been a significant financial, military and territorial losses suffered by the so-called Islamic State in Syria in Libya have led to an increase of foreign terrorist fighter to leave.
In Europe and In Maghreb it is estimated that the rates of returned of foreign fighters have increased by a third over the past year.
Forty to 50 percent of foreign terrorist fighters have already returned to their country of origin or went to other countries like Afghanistan, said Laborde.
He said that the initial return of foreign terrorist fighters included high number of young people "who went for the t-shirts in the pictures, but they returned confused and terrified." The UN official warned that the second wave of returnees is likely to be more dangerous than the previous as they have been fighting for years and on an average, they are much more committed and more skilled.
The UN official also warned about the nexus between organized crime and ISIL or what is known as the So-called Islamic State (IS).
Between 5 and 7 percent of ISIL resources comes from drug trafficking and 10 percent from human trafficking, he added.
The UN official declined to give any figures on the foreign terrorist fighters but according to media reports an estimated 30,000 foreign fighters went to Syria and Iraqi to fight including about 3,000 from Europe.
Laborde met in Brussels with EU official to discuss the general terrorist threat assessment and the challenges of returning foreign terrorist fighters. (end) nk.mb