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SYRIA

Most Italian jihadis with Isis aren’t immigrants

Around 50 Italians have been recruited by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), the majority from non-immigrant families, Italian media reported.

Most Italian jihadis with Isis aren't immigrants
Up to 11,000 foreigners are thought to be fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) in Syria. Photo: al-Furqan Media/AFP

The majority of the young “foreign fighters” were converted to Isis’ extreme ideology online and subsequently travelled to Syria and Iraq, Corriere della Sera said.

The vast majority – 80 percent – are from Italian families, while a minority are the second generation of immigrant families.

The men are mostly aged between 18 and 25 and come from northern Italy. Bologna, Turin and Padua were named as some of their home cities, although some foreign fighters have also come from Rome and Naples.

SEE ALSO: 130 jihadists from Austria fighting abroad

Speaking to the newspaper, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano confirmed that “there are tens of Italian fighters active in Syria.”

“Around ten have already died. We have a list of fighters with Italian nationality,” he said.

Quoting Italian intelligence, Corriere reported that Italian Isis members are used to supply logistical assistance and recruit new fighters in Italy. They are indoctrinated before being transferred to Iraq and Syria, the newspaper said.

According to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), based at King’s College London, there are up to 11,000 foreign fighters in Syria alone.

Between 396 and 1,937 are thought to come from western Europe, with the highest concentration from Belgium.

Up to 296 Belgians are fighting in Syria, 27 per capita, compared to a high estimate of 50 from Italy and 1 per capita. In western Europe, France has the highest number of foreign fighters in Syria – 412 – followed by the UK with up to 366.

SEE ALSO: Spanish girl, 14, arrested 'on way to join Isis'

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FILM

Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes

A film that follows two friends through four nightmarish years of the Syrian civil war has lifted some of the top prizes at the Venice film festival, which ends Saturday.

Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes
The Venice film festival ends on Saturday. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
“Still Recording”, a documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervour of the Syrian revolution. It picked up two awards at Venice Critics' Week.
 
Friends Saeed and Milad leave Damascus and go to Douma in 2011, a suburb under rebel control, to set up a radio station and recording studio. There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine.
 
Ayoub and Al Batal, who shot 500 hours of footage, told AFP that with so little reporting coming out of Syria it was important to bear witness.
 
“We started doing this because there wasn't, and still isn't, an efficient working media in Syria because it's not allowed to enter and if it is, it's under the control of the regime,” said Al Batal.
 
“Art is nothing if it is not resistance, even if there isn't revolution… it is resistance against a huge amount of emotions you have got inside you. Emotions need to come out and expressing them through art can do that.”
 
The win comes as the Syrian regime and its Russian allies are preparing to launch an assault on Idlib, the northern province that is the last major stronghold of the rebel and jihadist groups which have been trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad for the past seven years.
 
Al Batal said the situation in Syria “is more dangerous than ever now” because the Russian military are more ruthless than Assad's badly trained soldiers.
 
“They know where to hit, and how to hit hard,” said Al Batal, who said the “media army behind them” was the same.