Iraq will take custody of some 4,000 of its nationals detained in Syria for being ISIS fighters, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim announced today.
"We will bring them and they will be put on trial,” al-Hakim said.
The pledge could help resolve a diplomatic and security problem, as most nations have refused to assume responsibility for their citizens who traveled to Syria to join ISIS. The status of those militants has prompted Western alarm after Turkey launched an offensive against the Syrian Kurdish militias guarding the prisoners.
"The number of the foreign fighters in Syria is very high, and they are from up to 72 countries," al-Hakim said. "These countries should take necessary measures toward their citizens."
Syrian Kurdish militias have custody of roughly 12,000 ISIS fighters, including an estimated 4,000 Iraqi nationals. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters as an offshoot of a Turkish terrorist group that he sees as a bigger threat than ISIS, pledged to target ISIS in lands his forces seize from Kurdish fighters. American and European officials warned, however, that the assault would undermine the effort to defeat ISIS.
The issue was a priority for Vice President Mike Pence, who announced a five-day ceasefire on Thursday, following a meeting with Erdoğan in Ankara.
“Turkey and the United States mutually committed to the Defeat-ISIS activities in northeast Syria,” Pence told reporters. “This will also include an agreement renewed today to coordinate efforts on detention facilities and internally displaced persons in formerly ISIS-controlled areas.”
“Turkey and the United States mutually committed to the Defeat-ISIS activities in northeast Syria," Pence said. “This will also include an agreement renewed today to coordinate efforts on detention facilities and internally displaced persons in territory formerly held by ISIS.”