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Mosul terrorists’ families sent to Baghdad ‘for expulsion’

Displaced Iraqi children from the Mosul queue up on Monday outside a UN Children’s Fund school at the Hasan Sham camp, some 40 km east of Irbil in northern Iraq. (AFP)
MOSUL: About 300 wives and children of foreign terrorists captured in Mosul have been transferred from northern Iraq to Baghdad “for expulsion to their home countries,” an official said on Monday.
“This is the second wave of expulsions, and two or three more will follow,” said Nureddin Qablan, deputy head of the Nineveh provincial council.
Iraq’s second city, Mosul was recaptured in July after being taken in a lightning summer 2014 offensive by Daesh.
“A total of more than 1,200 members of terrorists’ families will be transferred” from Tel Keif detention center north of Mosul to a similar facility in the capital, Qablan said.
In mid-September, a senior security official said when the families arrived in Tel Keif that they comprised 509 women and 813 children from 13 different countries in Europe, Asia and America.
An Iraqi government source has said that about 300 of the women were Turkish.
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council NGO, which is seeking access to the detainees for humanitarian purposes, they are mainly from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia and Tajikistan.
What to do with captured terrorists and their families has been an issue of great concern in their home states.
For example, French terrorist prisoners will be tried in Iraq, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said, adding that children would be treated “on a case by case basis.”
In Syria this month, Russian officials took charge of 13 women and 29 children from Chechnya who had been found in the city of Raqqa, which was recaptured from Daesh in October.
Daesh may not be dead yet but its dream of statehood has already been buried, according to analysts.
According to the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, the terrorists have lost 95 percent of the cross-border caliphate they declared in 2014.
No one in Daesh “will now think of imposing ‘the territory of the caliphate’,” said Hisham Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi specialist on extremist movements.
In 2014, self-proclaimed Daesh “caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi ruled over 7 million people in a territory as large as Italy encompassing large parts of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq.
This new “territory of Islam” — Dar Al-Islam in Arabic — attracted thousands of terrorists from around the world, many accompanied by their wives and children.
The city of Raqqa became the de facto Syrian capital, while Al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance in a mosque in Mosul.
In all of the cities the extremist group controlled, the black banner of Daesh flew above the buildings of a new administration.
Courts, hospitals and other official bodies even issued birth or marriage certificates or verdicts and other decrees on Daesh letterhead.
But less than four years after its sweeping offensive stunned the world, Daesh has lost almost all of the territory it controlled along with the precious income from oil fields that funded its activities.

"In the course of recent battles, especially Mosul, a huge number of terrorists have died," said Kirk Sowell, publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics.
"Subsequent to that defeat, many others have surrendered or simply fled the country or are trying to melt into the population."
Hashemi said that after suffering such heavy losses, "even what might remain of IS would not think of returning" to the idea of military and administrative control of territory.
And the routed group has been confined in Iraq to "four percent of the territory: Wadis, oases and desert areas" without any population, along the porous border with Syria where it has also been cornered into an ever-tightening noose.
In addition to the Syrian and Iraqi armies, the remaining terrorists face myriad forces backed by Russia, the United States or Iran, often at odds with each other over their differing regional interests.
"The caliphate project ran up against geopolitical realities," according to Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Affairs.
As a result, "the international jihadi galaxy is likely to revert to its previous strategy of de-territorialization and revert to strikes against the 'distant enemy' in the West or Russia to show it must still be reckoned with," he added.
There is already a figurehead waiting in the wings.
Al-Hashemi said that despite the "caliphate" going down in flames, a new organization is beginning to emerge.
"Most veterans of IS and Al-Qaeda in Iraq are now regrouping in Syria" where terrorist groups still occupy many areas, he said.
These fighters -- "the most indoctrinated and most disciplined" -- have since September been forming the "Ansar Al-Furqan group, led by Hamza bin Laden", the son and would-be heir of Osama bin Laden.

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