Iraqi Kurds say 4,000 terrorists detained including foreigners

Dindar Zebari, the coordinator of the government of Kurdistan region of Iraq in the United Nations. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Iraqi Kurds say 4,000 terrorists detained including foreigners

IRBIL: Authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan said Tuesday they had detained some 4,000 suspected members of the Daesh group, including foreigners, in recent years.
They include around 1,000 jihadists who surrendered during the battle for Hawija, the last Daesh urban stronghold in Iraq until its fall late last year, Iraqi Kurdish official Dindar Zibari told reporters.
He said 350 people detained in northern Iraq who admitted to belonging to Daesh had been transferred from the city of Kirkuk, retaken by federal forces in October, to Kurdish-run prisons.
Human Rights Watch said in December that hundreds of detainees held by the Iraqi Kurdish authorities in Kirkuk were feared to have been "forcibly disappeared".
"The names of all these prisoners were submitted to the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, but they did not inform the families of 350 people," Zibari said.
He did not specify the number of foreigners among those arrested but said some had already been sent home, including a Japanese journalist detained in 2016 on suspicion of ties to Daesh.
Security forces from the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq have played a significant role in the war against Daesh.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in December in the three-year campaign by Iraqi forces to expel Daesh militants from the vast areas north and west of Baghdad.
His forces also took back disputed areas in the north from the Kurds after Baghdad rejected a controversial Kurdish independence vote in September.
Baghdad has called for detainees to be handed over to the federal government but that "should be done under the supervision of the United Nations," Zebari said.


US accuses Iran of destabilizing Mideast with missile program

Updated 27 min 3 sec ago
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US accuses Iran of destabilizing Mideast with missile program

  • Cites Iran’s support to the Houthi movement in Yemen and to Hezbollah in Lebanon
  • Says Iran's ballistic missile test and satellite launches violated UN Security Council resolution

JEDDAH: Iran’s missile program is destabilizing the Middle East, and Tehran risks starting a regional arms race by supplying weapons to armed groups in Lebanon and Yemen, a senior US arms control official said on Tuesday.

“Iran must immediately cease activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and halt the proliferation of missiles and missile technology to terror groups and other non-state actors,” Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, said in a speech to the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Iran’s missile program is a key contributor to increased tensions and destabilization in the region, increasing the risk of a regional arms race,” she said, denouncing Iran’s support to the Houthi movement in Yemen and to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

She said Iran had provided ballistic missiles to the Houthis that were fired into Saudi Arabia and unmanned aerial systems to Houthi groups that enable strikes against land-based targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “We are committed to aggressively countering Iran’s regional proliferation of ballistic missiles and its unlawful arms transfers,” she said.

US President Donald Trump said when he quit the 2015 deal that lifted international sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities that the agreement failed to rein in Iran’s missile program or curb its regional meddling.

The US has accused Iran of defying a UN Security Council resolution by carrying out a ballistic missile test and two satellite launches since December.

Poblete urged “all responsible countries” to enforce UN Security Council resolutions restricting the transfer of missile-related technologies to Iran. She also accused Iran of “pursuing pharmaceutical-based agents for offensive purposes,” but did not provide details.

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said Iran had the largest ballistic program in the Middle East. “Through its ballistic missile program, the Iranian regime appears determined to escalate tensions in the region and seek every opportunity to project its power in order to reassert its hegemony,” he said. “The international community ought to hold Tehran accountable for its military adventurism and violations of international standards.”