ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Monday announced that ‘in a joint plan’ they have begun to hand over hundreds of prisoners accused of being Islamic State (IS) fighters who were arrested by Kurdish Peshmerga forces over the past few years.
The plan came after the Iraqi lawmakers and other officials repeatedly accused the KRG of freeing Da’esh [IS] prisoners from the Kurdistan Region‘s jails, and that the KRG is not willing to hand over militants it is still holding.
The KRG Coordinator for International Advocacy Dindar Zebari responded to these accusations in a statement which stated that the KRG has already started to hand over the prisoners to the federal government of Iraq.
“The KRG has also facilitated on behalf of the concerned party in the Iraqi Federal Government to make sure the process is transparent with without mistakes,” Zebari stated.
“So far, a number of the IS prisoners have been handed over to the Iraqi government and the process is ongoing.”
According to Zebari, the process will continue, and in each phase, 50-55 prisoners will be sent to Baghdad.
Baghdad officials have often accused the semi-autonomous government of not intending to transfer captured IS fighters to Iraqi courts to stand trial.
In recent months, Zebari has told Kurdistan 24 that the KRG has, for some time, been willing to start the process of handing over IS prisoners to Baghdad, but only with the supervision of the UN.
“We want the transfer to be done in a fair and transparent manner. The KRG should not later be accused of handing over Sunnis to the Shia government in Baghdad,” Zebari previously told Kurdistan 24.
The Kurdish Peshmerga has been one of the most effective ground forces in defeating IS, according to former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who awarded three Peshmerga for their bravery in the fight against the jihadist group.
During the battle against the IS, the Kurdistan Region shared a border with territory captured by the jihadist group that was over 1000 kilometers (620 miles). The Peshmerga arrested many of their fighters while others surrendered themselves to Kurdish security forces on the front lines.
Editing by John J. Catherine