Iraqi authorities are currently holding as many as 1,400 wives and children of Islamic State militants following the group’s defeat in Mosul, a report from Reuters has revealed.
The wives and children are reportedly being held at an Iraqi camp in Mosul, the former Islamic State stronghold where they were recently defeated, with the majority of them coming from Turkey. However, others came from former Soviet states such as Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and Russia, while there were also French and German citizens among them.
According to an intelligence officer who spoke to Reuters, authorities are still verifying the individual’s nationalities, with many of them not having any documentation on their person. The group is believed to be the largest of Islamic State-linked captives to be held by Iraqi forces since the offensive began.
“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.”
Security officials confirmed their priority is to repatriate the families if embassies will take them and finding safe shelter for them as that process continues. They are not currently allowed to leave the camp.
However, authorities remain concerned over tension between homeless Iraqis also living in the camp, whose lives were destroyed by ISIS fighters as they advanced through Iraq, leading to the two groups being separated.
“The families are being kept to one side (of the camp) for their own safety,” an Iraqi military intelligence officer said.
There also remains uncertainty over the future of the individuals, with some countries indicating they would not be prepared to repatriate the wives, although may take a more sympathetic view towards the children.
“The general philosophy is that adults should go on trial in Iraq,” a French diplomatic source told Reuters. “We think children would benefit from judicial and social services in France.”
The situation follows the liberation of Mosul from Islamic State by Iraqi forces and US-led coalition following months of fighting. However, the conflict has led to mass devastation of the city’s infrastructure, while a UN report found that over 300,000 civilians in Mosul remain displaced even after 94,500 returned home to liberated parts of the city.