Iraqi Kurds say 4,000 IS fighters detained, including foreigners

Iraqi Kurds say 4,000 IS fighters detained, including foreigners
2 min read
07 February, 2018
The number includes 1,000 IS fighters who surrendered during the battle for Hawija, the last IS urban stronghold in Iraq until its fall late last year.
Iraqi Kurdish authorities have detained 4,000 suspected IS members in recent years. [Getty]

Iraqi Kurdish authorities have detained 4,000 suspected members of the Islamic State group in recent years, including foreign fighters.

The number includes 1,000 IS fighters who surrendered during the battle for Hawija, the last IS urban stronghold in Iraq until its fall late last year, Iraqi Kurdish official Dindar Zibari told reporters.

Around 350 people detained in northern Iraq who admitted to belonging to IS have been transferred from the city of Kirkuk, which was retaken by federal Iraqi forces in October, to Kurdish-run prisons.

"The names of all these prisoners were submitted to the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, but they did not inform the families of 350 people," Zibari said.

He did not specify the number of foreigners among those arrested but said some had already been sent home, including a Japanese journalist detained in 2016 on suspicion of ties to IS.

Human Rights Watch said in December that hundreds of detainees held by the Iraqi Kurdish authorities in Kirkuk were feared to have been "forcibly disappeared".

Security forces from the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq have played a significant role in the war against IS.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in December in the three-year campaign by Iraqi forces to expel IS militants from the vast areas north and west of Baghdad.

His forces also took back disputed areas in the north from the Kurds after Baghdad rejected a controversial Kurdish independence vote in September. 

Baghdad has called for detainees to be handed over to the federal government but that "should be done under the supervision of the United Nations," Zebari said.