The Count of Emmejihad: brand new compilation of figures about foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq

It is still difficult to find an open source compilation of actual numbers regarding foreign fighters in the Syrian-Iraqi conflict. Therefore, Emmejihad has decided to provide one that will be updated as soon as new figures are brought to our attention. It can be found at and users are kindly invited to share the information they found.

Most research on foreign fighters in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts is focused on those fighting against the regimes of both countries — and even more specifically the extremist islamic groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS or ISIL). Some figures do include foreign fighters who are active on the other side, though. In general, those fighters tend to be underreported. But it would be wrong to consider all the mentioned foreign fighters as jihadists who are a threat outside the current conflict. At this point, it seems impossible to split up all countries’ figures for the different affiliations — which of course would be more than interesting. So we are keen to get information that will enable a more precise breakdown.

The list of countries is based on the report ‘Foreign Fighters in Syria’, written by Richard Barrett for The Soufan Group in June, 2014. Countries were added when information appeared in the meantime that they have foreign fighters too — such as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. For a base set of figures we also relied on the data published by The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), part of the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London. These institutions and their researchers deserve a lot of credit for the work presented here.

We distinguish three categories of figures, dependent on the source. The first one are official estimates as publicly announced by relevant authorities in the country itself, and in a few cases only the exact numbers mentioned by them. The second category are estimates by relevant authorities that were declared anonymously, or estimates by relevant authorities higher than their exact count. The third one are counts or estimates from unofficial sources, such as academic researchers or the media. We try to omit figures from the active parties in the conflicts — apart from the non-regional members of the so-called coalition against Islamic State — since they risk to be exaggerations.


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