MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan 24) – Three Turkish citizens among 17 other female Islamic State (IS) militants were detained by Iraqi counterterrorism units late last week.
The female IS members were captured in a secret tunnel in the Quleiat neighborhood of Mosul’s Old City, Iraqi officials reported on July 15.
Iraqi counterterrorism official Haider al-Araji said the extremists were preparing to attack security forces in the area.
“The women had weapons and explosive belts meant to attack Iraqi troops,” he said.
Despite an official announcement by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi regarding the liberation of Mosul, clashes continue in the area.
According to Araji, the 20 women were arrested on July 13.
The group included five German citizens, three Russian nationals, three Turks, two from Canada, one Chechen, and six from Libya and Syria, the Iraqi official added.
Araji suggested the women were working for IS’ police arm and had been hiding in a system of tunnels built by the extremist group.
It remains unclear whether the women will face trial in Iraq or be extradited to their home countries.
IS first emerged in northern Iraq in 2014, controlling large swaths of territory before expanding to Syria.
Since then, the militant group has lost most of the territory it once controlled including Mosul, its stronghold in Iraq.
An offensive to oust the group from Raqqa, their remaining stronghold in neighboring Syria, is ongoing.
The operation by the forces in Syria, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), is backed by US-led coalition airstrikes.
Editing by G. H. Renaud