Eight alleged IS members may be abused in Lebanon: HRW

Beirut (AFP) –


Eight alleged members of the Islamic State group could face abuse if they are transferred from northern Syria to their native Lebanon, Human Rights Watch told AFP on Friday.

Lebanon's army said this week that eight Lebanese nationals accused of fighting alongside IS in Iraq and Syria had been transferred to its intelligence units.

HRW said it had previously documented rights violations committed by the Lebanese security forces now holding the suspected jihadists.

"We and other organisations have documented torture and ill treatment by the army and the military intelligence, who are detaining these individuals," said Lama Fakih, the rights group's deputy regional director.

"At the same time, we have concerns these individuals will not receive fair trials in military courts, where we have documented concerns about impartiality of judges," she told AFP.

The Lebanese army has not specified when the suspected IS fighters were handed over to Lebanon, from where, or by whom.

The operation came "within the framework of the international coalition to fight terrorism," the army said, adding that military intelligence has since transferred the detainees to the courts.

A report by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said they were caught by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), for years Washington's main partner in the fight against IS in Syria.

The suspects were brought to Lebanon more than a month ago in US military plane, Al-Akhbar reported.

A security source told AFP that the alleged jihadists were being interrogated by intelligence services.

Human Rights Watch said the lack of transparency over the procedures was worrying.

"Little is known about conditions of their confinement, access to lawyers, when they came to Lebanon -- all these things add to the baseline level of concern," said Fakih.

At the peak of its self-styled "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, IS attracted thousands of foreigners to join it, including Lebanese nationals.

But it has since lost almost all of its territory, and US-backed forces have been detaining foreign IS members in both Syria and Iraq.

Last month, Washington said two Americans accused of supporting IS had been handed over by the SDF to US authorities.