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The New Arab

Corrupt Iraqi officers 'releasing detained IS members for money'

Iraqi forces have been engaged in a grinding battle for west Mosul [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2017

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An Iraqi lawmaker has said that corrupt military officers have been letting Islamic State fighters go free in exchange for cash, as fighting in the city of Mosul continues.

Unscrupulous Iraqi security forces are making under the table deals to release members of the Islamic State group detained during ongoing fighting in the city of Mosul, an Iraqi lawmaker has said.

Aliya Nassif said on Monday that corrupt military officers have been letting IS fighters go free in exchange for cash, as US-backed forces attempt to retake the city from the extremist group.

"Some weak souls in the security forces are selling off detained IS members in exchange for money," Nassif said in a statement, according to local media outlets.

"This is a result of there being no accurate data about the number, nationalities and crimes committed by IS members arrested in Mosul. The numbers released by the Police Affairs Agency are fake because the number of detainees in Qayyarah alone is only 1,315," she said.

The lawmaker added that the IS fighters who buy their freedom then return to the battlefield to continue "murdering and destroying".

Iraqi forces have been engaged in a grinding battle for west Mosul since last month, prompting more than 200,000 civilians to flee the northern city, Iraq's second largest.

Groups within the Iraqi military have been detaining men fleeing Mosul in unidentified detention centres where they are cut off from contact with the outside world, Human Rights Watch [HRW] has warned.

"In case after case, relatives are telling us that their male family members are being stopped by [pro-government militia] fighters and disappearing," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW.

"While we cannot know exactly what has happened to the men detained, the lack of transparency, particularly for their families as to their whereabouts, is cause for real concern."

Walid al-Qaisi, a member of the Mosul Bar Association, told The New Arab that an investigation must be conducted into Nassif's accusations.

"I have heard about some cases of IS fighters being released for money, but I didn't realise that it had reached the proportions that a member of parliament has spoken out about it," Qaisi said.

"The outbreak of this phenomenon will lead to terrorism returning to Mosul in different clothes because it gives IS members the chance to reorganise themselves," he added.

The operation to retake Mosul was launched last October, with Iraqi forces recapturing its eastern side before setting their sights on its smaller but more densely-populated west.

Iraqi and US-led coalition officials have repeatedly warned that after Mosul, IS will likely return to its insurgent roots as it loses more territory in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

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