Iraqi counterterrorism units reported on July 15 that they had detained 20 female Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, including three Turkish citizens, captured in a secret tunnel discovered under the Old City neighborhood of Quleiat in Mosul.
The neighborhood has witnessed sporadic clashes since last week, despite the official announcement of the “complete liberation” of the city.
“The women had weapons and explosive belts meant for attacking Iraqi troops” counter-terrorism official Haidar al-Araji said.
The group of women, who were arrested on July 13, included five citizens of Germany, three citizens of Russia, three citizens of Turkey, two citizens of Canada, one Chechn and six from Libya and Syria, according to al-Araji.
Meanwhile, an Iraqi intelligence officer said on July 16 that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was still alive.
Last month, the Russian
Defense Ministry media said that al-Baghdadi was believed to have been killed in an airstrike in Syria.
U.S. officials, however, said they don’t have any proof confirming the ISIL leader’s death.
“Al-Baghdadi is still hiding in Syria in an area outside [the northern Syrian province of] Raqqa,” Abu Ali al-Basri, the head of the intelligence and anti-terrorism department at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told the local Al-Sabah newspaper.
He insisted that reports speaking about al-Baghdadi’s death were untrue.
The U.S. offers a $25-million bounty for al-Baghdadi, who split from al-Qaeda organization in 2013.
He was last seen in public in 2014 after his group captured Mosul when he announced the creation of the so-called caliphate in both Syria and Iraq.
Last week, Iraqi authorities announced the full liberation of Mosul, the last ISIL stronghold in northern Iraq.