PARIS (Reuters) – Iraqi President Barham Saleh said on Monday that 13 Islamic State detainees who were transferred to Iraq last week from the Syrian Democratic Forces will be tried in Iraq.
“They are accused of having commanded operations against Iraqis and Iraqi installations in Iraq, and they will be tried according to Iraqi law,” Salih told a press conference in Paris with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. “We are acting within the confines of international law on this matter.”
Salih was responding to a question by a French reporter, about the fate of French detainees who were transferred to Iraq last week. He did not explicitly say whether the detainees were French.
Macron declined to confirm whether those 13 included French citizens, saying it was not up to him to comment on the issue.
Two Iraqi military sources told Reuters on Sunday that the U.S.-backed SDF handed over French Islamic detainees last week.
As many as 14 French citizens and six Arabs of unspecific nationality were handed to Iraq last Thursday, according to one military source close to the handover process who commands troops near the Syrian border.
The Iraqi military has said only Iraqi nationals were handed over by the SDF.
“The exchanges between the Iraqi security forces are part of bilateral relations that they maintain with Iraq in the fight against the jihadist enemy,” Macron said of the SDF. “In this context, the decisions that were made are not to be commented on, and it is not up to me to confirm the identity of such or such person.”
Macron said regarding any French detainees who were to be transferred, that it would be up to the local government to decide whether to prosecute them there, but that French citizens would be entitled to consular access.
Salih said that Iraq would seek to prosecute in Iraq those Islamic State fighters who have committed crimes against Iraqis and Iraqi installations in Iraq.
“All those accused of having committed crimes in Iraq, against the Iraqi people or against Iraqi installations in Iraq, we will seek to prosecute them.”
(Reporting by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Toby Chopra)