TEL AVIV – More than 2,000 former Islamic State fighters have officially pleaded for “forgiveness” to a panel of military officers and Sunni leaders in Iraq, the London-based Al Hayat newspaper reported.
The petitioners are young men who “volunteered” to join IS, but didn’t take part in the killing. Concern has been raised by the Sunni community in Iraq that many young men joined IS by coercion, and are now vulnerable to prosecution under the country’s strict anti-terror law.
Iraqi authorities have continued to interrogate thousands of men who fled the city of Fallujah, a former IS stronghold. Al Hayat stated that many of them provided valuable intelligence about IS troops, while simultaneously seeking a pardon. It remains to be seen whether the authorities will comply, given the extenuating circumstances.
The report comes as a senior Iraqi commander on Sunday declared that Fallujah was “fully liberated” from IS following nearly five weeks of intense fighting.
The Associated Press has more on the liberation of Fallujah:
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, visiting central Fallujah with the celebrating troops, vowed that the Iraqi flag would next be raised above Mosul. But that campaign has been progressing in fits and starts, revealing the deep divisions among the different groups that make up the security forces.
Iraqi troops entered Fallujah’s northwestern neighborhood of al-Julan, the last part of the city under Islamic State control, said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, head of the counterterrorism forces in the operation.
The operation, which began May 22, “is done, and the city is fully liberated,” al-Saadi told The Associated Press.
Al-Abadi, dressed in the black fatigues of the counterterrorism forces and carrying an Iraqi flag, visited Fallujah’s central hospital Sunday evening and called for residents of the city 40 miles west of Baghdad to celebrate the military advance.
…The Fallujah operation was carried out by Iraq’s elite counterterrorism troops, Iraqi federal police, Anbar provincial police and an umbrella group of government- sanctioned militia fighters — mostly Shiites — who are known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.