Iraq launches major anti-Daesh offensive

In this October 12, 2016 file photo, a convoy of Iraqi security forces advances on the outskirts of Mosul, to fight against Daesh militants, in Kirkuk, Iraq. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 July 2018
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Iraq launches major anti-Daesh offensive

  • Dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs,” the operation will see the army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down Daesh cells in the center of the country.
  • The operation marked the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the peshmerga were working together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum.

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces launched a major operation against remnants of Daesh on Wednesday following public anger over the murder of a group of abducted civilians.

Dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs,” the operation will see the army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down Daesh cells in the center of the country, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

It comes after the bodies of eight Daesh captives were found late last month along a highway north of Baghdad. Some of the abductees had appeared in a video in which Daesh threatened to execute them unless Baghdad released female prisoners.

The JOC statement said army, federal police, special forces, peshmerga fighters and the Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force had launched “a vast operation to clear out the region east of the Diyala-Kirkuk” highway.

The operation was being supported by the Iraqi air force and the US-led coalition that intervened against Daesh in Iraq and Syria after the terrorist group seized control of large parts of both countries in 2014.

One militant had already been killed and eight captured, the JOC said, and equipment including vehicles and bombs destroyed.

The operation marked the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the peshmerga were working together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December after expelling the militants from all major towns and cities in a vast offensive.

But the Iraqi military has kept up operations targeting mostly remote desert areas from where terrorists continue to carry out attacks.

Prime Minister Haider Abadi had vowed to avenge the eight civilians killed by Daesh and ordered the execution of hundreds of convicted militants. Thirteen terrorists on death row were executed last week. 

 


Syria Kurds urge world to take back foreign militants

Updated 24 March 2019
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Syria Kurds urge world to take back foreign militants

  • The Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar warned that its foreign captives still pose a threat
  • Many of the suspected militants’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: Syria’s Kurds warned Sunday that the thousands of foreign militants they have detained in their fight against the Daesh group are a time-bomb the international community urgently needs to defuse.
Speaking a day after Kurdish-led forces announced the final demise of the militants’ physical “caliphate,” the Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar warned that its foreign captives still pose a threat.
“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Omar said.
“Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation,” he said, referring to the village by the Euphrates where diehard militants made a bloody last stand.
The fate of foreign Daesh fighters has become a major issue as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces closed in on the once-sprawling proto-state the militants declared in 2014.
After a months-long assault by the US-backed SDF to flush out the last Daesh strongholds in the Euphrates Valley, militants and their families gradually gathered in Baghouz as the last rump of the “caliphate” shrank around them.
While some managed to escape, many of the foreigners stayed behind, either surrendering to the SDF or fighting to the death.
According to the SDF, 66,000 people left the last Daesh pocket since January, including 5,000 militants and 24,000 of their relatives.
The assault was paused multiple times as the SDF opened humanitarian corridors for people evacuating the besieged enclave.
The droves of people scrambling out of Baghouz in recent weeks were screened by the SDF and dispatched to camps further north, where most are still held.
The de facto autonomous Kurdish administration is northeastern Syria has warned it does not have capacity to detain so many people, let alone put them on trial.
But many of the suspected militants’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks and a likely public backlash.
Some have even withdrawn citizenship from their nationals detained in Syria.
“There has to be coordination between us and the international community to address this danger,” Abdel Karim Omar said.
“There are thousands of children who have been raised according to IS ideology,” he added.
“If these children are not reeducated and reintegrated in their societies of origin, they are potential future terrorists.”