What started in 2011 as a popular uprising against the Syrian regime escalated into an all-out war that engulfed both Syria and Iraq, drew in a suite of regional actors and world powers, and attracted an unprecedented number of volunteer combatants from more than a hundred countries.
Among those countries are many of the nations in the Western Balkans, from which more than a thousand nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, N. Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are estimated to have travelled to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq since 2012. The significance of this number becomes apparent when you consider the context of the combined population across these small countries, a total population of less than nineteen million. The rates of volunteer mobilisation relative to the population size of the Western Balkans nations are far higher than any other in western European afflicted by volunteer fighters and terrorists.(more…)