US reportedly sending ISIS fighters captured in Syria to Iraq

The U.S. has reportedly sent at least 30 suspected ISIS combatants who were captured in Syria in 2017 and 2018 to Iraq for trials. 

Reuters reported the transfers on Wednesday, citing interviews with the men, Iraqi sources and court documents. Three of the men have reportedly been convicted of ISIS membership and sentenced to death while five have have been given life sentences.

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The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) denied to Reuters that the men were transferred into their custody. The agency also denied torture claims four of the men made to Reuters, which the news outlet was not able to verify.

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The U.S. military’s Central Command did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill and declined to comment on the findings to Reuters, but did tell the wire service that there are challenges associated with the detainees.

“The issue of foreign terrorist fighters in SDF [U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces] custody in Syria is an extremely complex problem,” spokesman Capt. Bill Urban told Reuters.

He added that the U.S. wants other countries to deal with their combatants with “prosecution, rehabilitation programs, or other measures that sufficiently prevent detainees from re-engaging in terrorism.”

“We remain engaged with a wide range of international partners to ensure that these foreign terrorist fighters never threaten anyone again,” Urban said.

Reuters interviewed eight men who had been convicted of being ISIS fighters. They reportedly said that after they were captured by the SDF, they were held at U.S. military bases in Iraq or Jordan before being transferred to Iraqi custody.

The men told Reuters that they were prosecuted using false confessions, which six said they were tortured into thumb-printing. Iraqi officials have denied this allegation.

CTS spokesperson Sabah al-Naaman denied both the claims of transfers from Syria into CTS custody in 2017 and 2018 and also denied the torture allegations. 

“IS [Islamic State] members know how to tell lies to mislead judges in order to evade prosecutions,” Naaman said.

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