ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi intelligence forces recently captured a "financing cell" of the Islamic State in an operation conducted inside Syrian territory, sources said on Friday.
A security source told Kurdistan 24 that the group was composed of 13 members serving as the "largest financing group for the terrorist organization." The source added that 11 of those captured are French citizens of Arab descent, one is ethnically French, and the last is from an unspecified Arab country and a resident of France.
The arrests come at a time when Iraqi authorities are cracking down on entities and offices suspected to be financing the jihadist group. Iraqi media also reported that the operation is the largest of its kind so far carried out, coming after the group was accused of financing the terrorist organization in more than one country.
Other security sources and local media said the operation was carried out days ago by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service in coordination with the international coalition.
It is not clear how and where the arrest was carried out or by what method those detained were transferred from Syria to Iraq.
In addition to the French cell, at least 15 Iraqis elsewhere have been arrested for suspected membership in the group in recent days, local media reported, noting that most of them were arrested in Turkey.
This comes as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday handed over to Iraq more than 150 Iraqi and foreign fighters of the Islamic State, according to Reuters.
Officials from the SDF have suggested the idea of trying the foreign fighters internationally to break the impasse with foreign governments who refuse to repatriate them, a plan that Belgium showed support for on Thursday.
The SDF is currently preparing for a final assault on the last pocket of territory held by the jihadi group in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border.
Editing by John J. Catherine