ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Over 1,000 Islamic State (IS) fighters have turned themselves in to Kurdish forces after the militant group’s recent defeat in its last major stronghold of Hawija.
According to Kurdish intelligence officials, since losing control of Hawija, the extremists have surrendered in waves, signaling a turning point in the war against one of the most feared terror groups in the world.
Before the fall of Hawija, and certainly during their control of Mosul, IS had pledged to fight or die on the battlefield.
However, it appears the group’s militants have changed their minds after thousands turned themselves in to Kurdish forces at a security center in the town of Dibis.
The Iraqi military said it ousted the militant group from Hawija, west of Mosul, within 15 days where most of the extremists reportedly fled with their families instead of fighting back.
The IS wali, or governor of Hawija, ordered the men to surrender to Kurdish Peshmerga instead of Iraqi and Shia forces who are known for their brutal killing of extremists even after they turn themselves in, the New York Times reported.
“The governor told us each to ‘solve your own problem and find your own solution for yourself,’” an IS fighter who was interviewed at the Dibis center said.
“He said, ‘Go to the Peshmerga, not the Hashd,’” the fighter added, referring to the Iranian-backed Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi who are notorious for executing IS militants and their entire families.
The Kurds, on the other hand, are known to accept prisoners instead of killing them and recognize “who is good and who is bad,” one of the extremists told interrogators.
“This is the end of this [Islamic] state,” another fighter said. “I believe if the governors are telling us to surrender, it really means that this is the end.”
Editing by Ava Homa