ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) extradited 280 Iraqi nationals who were Islamic State militants back to Baghdad, Iraqi authorities confirmed on Sunday.
The mass expatriation comes as the SDF presses onward to liberate the jihadist group’s last pocket of territory in eastern Syria.
The Kurdish-led forces have arrested “a large number” of Islamic State militants “of multiple nationalities, including more than 500 Iraqis,” Iraq’s Security Media Cell reported in a statement.
“As of now, we have received 280 [Iraqi ISIS fighters],” the statement added.
The captured militants were sent in two separate batches, with the first group, some 130 Iraqi jihadists, arriving on Thursday as an Iraqi military spokesperson had then announced.
The transfers are expected to “continue until they are completed,” Iraqi authorities stated.
Security forces in Baghdad are already cross-referencing the list of names in their database with arrests warrants judicial authorities had been issued against suspected Islamic State members.
Although Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State in December 2017, the extremist group continues to launch regular attacks, including bombings, kidnappings, and ambushes, against security forces and civilians, both in liberated areas as well as in major cities the group never controlled, such as Baghdad and Kirkuk.
Over the past year, the Iraqi judiciary has issued death sentences and life in prison to dozens of alleged Islamic State members.
In the past few months, Iraqi forces have tightened security on its border with neighboring Syria to prevent jihadists from crossing over as the SDF advances on the last Islamic State stronghold in the Eastern Euphrates Valley.
Editing by Nadia Riva