14 French ISIL detainees handed to Iraq
The U.S.-backed YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, has handed 280 Iraqi and foreign ISIL detainees to Iraq, 14 of whom are French citizens, in recent days, Iraq’s military said in a statement on Feb. 24.
An Iraqi military colonel confirmed to Reuters that 130 people were transferred on Feb. 24, adding to the 150 transferred on Feb. 21. They included the first known transfers of non-Iraqi detainees to Iraq, but it was unclear if they will remain in Iraqi custody.
There are meant to be more such handovers under an agreement to transfer a group of some 500 detainees held by the YPG in Syria, Iraqi military sources said.
Among the 280 were as many as 14 French citizens and six Arabs of unspecific nationality, according to one military source close to the handover process who commands troops near the Syrian border.
The Iraqi military has said only Iraqi nationals were handed over by the YPG.
The mayor of the Iraqi border town of Al-Qaim, Ahmed al-Mahallawi, said that some militants’ families had also been transferred.
The fate of the detainees has become more pressing in recent days as the YPG plans an assault to capture the last remnants of the group’s self-styled caliphate.
The U.S. has called for countries to take back and try their own nationals. France’s official position states that French “terrorist” fighters “must be tried wherever they committed their crimes,” according to the French foreign ministry.