ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has handed over 853 Islamic State (IS) suspects to Baghdad in the past eight months, a Kurdish official revealed on Monday.
Dindar Zebari, the KRG Coordinator for International Advocacy, held a press conference in Erbil in response to reports from various human rights organizations about the Kurdistan Region’s handling of IS detainees and suspects.
“From July 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, there were 2,704 Da’esh suspects in the Kurdistan Region’s prisons,” Zebari said, using the pejorative Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.
Following the emergence of IS in Iraq in 2014, the Kurdistan Region, in the north of the country, suddenly found itself holding a 1,000-kilometer (620 miles) long frontline against the extremist group. During three intense years of fighting, Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces captured and arrested fleeing IS members, defectors, and suspects.
Last year, the Iraqi Federal Government requested the Kurdish semi-autonomous region hand over all IS prisoners it held in its jails.
The KRG began to send hundreds of IS detainees to Baghdad under the supervision of the UN.
Over the past eight months, the Kurdish government has handed over 853 IS suspects to Baghdad, all of whom were not originally from the Kurdistan Region, Zebari added.
“We want the transfer to be done in a fair and transparent manner. The KRG should not be accused later of handing over Sunnis to the Shia government in Baghdad,” the Kurdish official previously told Kurdistan 24.
Iraq declared “final victory” over the jihadist group late last year but IS activities continue in the country, with insurgency-style attacks, suicide bombings, ambushes, and kidnappings periodically taking place.
Iraqi security forces have arrested thousands of IS members. Over the past few months, Iraqi courts have issued executions and life sentences to many prisoners for belonging to the jihadist group despite the UN’s ongoing concerns with the expedited trials.
Editing by Nadia Riva