Iraqi authorities are holding 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Islamic State fighters after government forces expelled the ISIL from one of its last remaining strongholds in Iraq, security and aid officials said.
Most came from Turkey. Many others were from former Soviet states, such as Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Russia, Iraqi army and intelligence officers said. Other Asians and a “very few” French and Germans were also among them. Quoted from Reuters.
Officials had counted so far at least 13 nationalities, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Salah Kareem.
The wives and children are being held at an Iraqi camp south of Mosul. Most had arrived since Aug. 30, when Iraqi troops drove Islamic State out of Mosul.
It is the largest group of foreigners linked to Islamic State to be held by Iraqi forces since they began driving the militants from Mosul and other areas in northern Iraq last year, an aid official said.
“We are holding the Daesh families under tight security measures and waiting for government orders on how to deal with them,” said Army Colonel Ahmed al-Taie from Mosul’s Nineveh operation command.
“We treat them well. They are families of tough criminals who killed innocents in cold blood, but when we interrogated them we discovered that almost all of them were misled by a vicious Daesh propaganda,” he said.
An interior ministry official said Iraq wanted to negotiate with embassies the return of the women and children.
“We can’t keep this number in our custody for a long time,” the official said.