French IS detainees will be tried in Iraq following European pressure

French IS detainees will be tried in Iraq following European pressure
President Saleh of Iraq announced 13 French IS detainees will be tried in Iraq, amid calls for foreign IS fighters to be brought back to their home countries.
2 min read
25 February, 2019
French President Macron shakes hands with Iraqi President Saleh at the press conference [AFP/Getty Images)

Iraq President Barham Saleh said 13 French Islamic State group detainees will be tried in Iraq, in a follow up press conference to a meeting held between him and French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

"They are accused of having commanded operations against Iraqis and Iraqi installations in Iraq, and they will be tried according to Iraqi law," Saleh said. "We are acting within the confines of international law on this matter."

Saleh stated that Baghdad would seek to prosecute IS fighters in Iraq who have committed crimes against Iraqis and installations inside the country, Reuters reported. 

The 13 French IS fighters were captured in Syria by the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and transferred to Iraq last week.

Saleh began a two-day visit to France on Monday in which he will discuss the country's security and the fight against the IS in the region.

The French presidency said Paris intends to reaffirm its full support to Iraq to face challenges regarding security, stability, inclusive governance, and the country's reconstruction.

France's official position on the issue of foreign fighters states that French "terrorist" fighters "must be tried wherever they committed their crimes", according to the French foreign affairs ministry.

But US President Donald Trump called earlier this month for countries to take back and try their own nationals. Germany and France issued strong rebuttals to his call. "At this stage France is not responding to [Trump's] demands," French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told France 2.

The government of France, which accounts for the largest number of European jihadis in Syria, has said it would stick to its current policy of dealing with fighters on a case-by-case basis.

Read also: Grandparents hope to repatriate French children suffering in Syrian camps

The SDF has also urged countries such as the UK and France to take back their citizens.

As Syrian-Kurdish forces prepare to defeat IS and take over its last territory in Baghouz, they are struggling with the intake of thousands of civilians fleeing the area.

"As thousands of foreigners flee [IS'] crumbling caliphate, the burden which is already too heavy for us to handle is getting even heavier," SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said on Twitter late Saturday, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"This will remain as the biggest challenge awaiting us unless governments take action and fulfil their responsibilities for their citizens," he said.

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