Iraqi authorities say they have moved some 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Daesh Takfiri terrorists to a new site north of Mosul, which used to be the terror group’s de facto capital in the Arab country, dismissing the concerns of aid organizations.
“They were transported to a safe location with better services, in Tal Keif town [nearly 12 kilometers northeast of Mosul], under the supervision of the Iraqi forces and specialized committees,” said the Iraqi military in a statement on Monday.
After being expelled from Tal Afar, the Daesh terrorist group left behind their foreign wives and children, who were taken in the custody of the Iraqi government shortly afterwards. The group, the largest group of foreigners linked to Daesh in Iraq, was then initially housed in a specially-designated camp, called the Hammam al-Alil transit camp, situated south of Mosul.
Tal Afar, located some 63 kilometers west of Mosul and around 150 kilometers from Syria’s border, was among the last Daesh-held cities in Iraq, and its liberation, which was fully achieved in late last month, deprived Daesh of what was once a key supply route between its territory in Syria and Iraq.
On Sunday, foreign aid officials in Iraq said that they were “gravely concerned” about the families, who had been in the custody of Iraqi army in the guarded transit camp since August 30.
“These women and children are extremely vulnerable. Regardless of what their family members may be accused of, they have a right to protection and assistance,” the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement on Monday.
Since early this month, Iraqi officials have engaged in the process of verifying the families’ identities and nationalities, as many of the women had lost or destroyed their original credentials. According to preliminary figures from the Iraqi army, over 300 of the families came from neighboring Turkey, many others from former Soviet states, including Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Russia.
“Humanitarian organizations and representatives from their home countries should be allowed to offer to them help,” the NRC further said.
Iraqi forces launched the Tal Afar liberation operation on August 20, one month after fully recapturing the country’s second biggest city, Mosul, which was Daesh’s so-called “capital” in Iraq.
Daesh unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, but it is currently retreating from much of the territory under its control in the Arab country due to recent advances made by the Iraqi forces on the battlefield.