Iraq takes back 100 IS fighters from Syria Kurdish forces

AFP , Wednesday 8 Dec 2021

Iraqi authorities Wednesday repatriated 100 Iraqi fighters from the Islamic State jihadist group who were being held by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, a senior Iraqi security official said.

Iraqi fighter
File Photo: A member of the Iraqi force stands at attention during a search of the area in Tarmiyah, 35 kilometres (20 miles) north of Baghdad on February 20, 2021, following clashes with ISIS group fighters. AFP

"This morning we collected 100 terrorists" held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria, General Abdul Amir al-Shammari told AFP.

The jihadists "have been handed over to the intelligence services for questioning," said Shammari, deputy commander of Joint Operations which coordinates between Iraqi security forces and the international anti-jihadist coalition.

The SDF alliance has led the anti-IS fight with the support of a coalition led by Washington.

It previously handed over about 100 Iraqi IS fighters to Baghdad in February and again in September, according to Iraqi security sources.

The Syrian Kurdish administration, which controls large swathes of northeast Syria, has at times been reluctant to communicate on issues related to IS fighters or their families held by Kurdish forces in prisons or camps in Syria.

In 2019, the SDF had handed over about 900 Iraqis to Baghdad, most of them captured while trying to flee the last remaining IS strongholds in Syria, according to Iraqi judicial sources.

IS, after occupying vast territories in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2017, suffered one setback after another.

In late 2017, Iraq announced "victory" after driving the IS from all urban areas. By March 2019, the IS had lost all its strongholds in Syria.

Some 1,600 Iraqis suspected of having fought for IS are still being held by the SDF, according to a UN report.

Thousands of civilians are also being held in internally displaced people's camps such as Al-Hol, which houses more than 60,000 people, half of whom are Iraqis.

Iraq has already prosecuted thousands of its nationals for membership in the IS, a crime punishable by death under an anti-terrorism law.

Hundreds have been sentenced to death, but few executions have been carried out as the prison administration has to obtain a presidential order to put them to death.

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