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US-backed Syrian forces hand over IS fighters to Iraq

February 21, 2019

Iraqi and foreign IS fighters have been transferred to Iraq from Syria. It was unclear if European IS fighters and family members were among those shipped to Iraq.

IS fighters in Syria
Image: AFP/B. Kilic

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Thursday handed over more than 150 Iraqi and foreign Islamic State (IS) fighters and their families to Iraq, according to Iraqi military sources and a local mayor.

Ten trucks transported the IS fighters and their families to Iraq, where they are in a "safe place" and being investigated, an Iraqi security official said. 

Read more: Mosul: Where demons, women and 'Islamic State' met 

"The majority of them are Iraqis and the convoy was under maximum security protection headed to the Jazeera and Badiya military headquarters," said Ahmed al-Mahallawi, mayor of the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.

The transfer comes as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have swept down the Euphrates River Valley and confined IS to a final sliver of territory near the porous Iraqi-Syrian border.

Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi has said Iraq will accept all Iraqi IS members and their family members.

President Donald Trump has called on US allies and other countries to take back several thousand IS fighters and their families in Syrian Kurdish detention.

It was unclear if European IS members were among those handed over to Iraq. A transfer to Iraq could enable European countries, including Germany, to identify their citizens and repatriate IS members to face justice at home.   

cw/rt (AP, Reuters)

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