Syria hands over 100 Islamic State fighters to Iraq, says mayor

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gives bread to children near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Anbar ( – Iraq has received 100 Islamic State jihadists, including senior leaders, from Syria, an Iraqi mayor said seemingly under an agreement to hand over a total of 502 fighters.

“The Syrian side has handed the Jazeerah Operations Command a total of 100 Islamic State elements, who were arrested by the Syrian army near the borderline with Iraq,” the independent news website of Almaalomah quoted the mayor of Iraqi border town Al-Qaim, Ahmed al-Mahallawi, as saying on Tuesday.

“The terrorists were moved to the Ain Assad airbase in al-Baghdadi district, west of Anbar, for interrogation and judicial action,” al-Mahalawi said, adding that there were senior leaders among the arrestees.

Around 800 of foreign jihadist fighters who joined Islamic State, including many Iraqis, are being held in Syria by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the group said. More than 2,000 family members are also in camps, with dozens more arriving each day.

The militant group still poses a threat in Iraq and some western officials believe that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may still be hiding there.

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