Iraq's Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on Thursday the arrest of a number of ISIS members who had crossed the border into Iraq from the west amid a Turkish military incursion into northern Syria that has resulted in a new crisis in the embattled country.
“A number of ISIS fugitives have been arrested inside Iraqi territory,” the ministry said in a statement, without revealing additional details.
The announcement comes just three days after The Baghdad Post had learnt that Baghdad was deploying more troops to border areas with Syria to prevent possible Islamic State insurgent infiltration.
The MoD statement said that Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari was surveying some of the border areas that had been reinforced with more security forces. He was accompanied by the Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Peshmerga, Shorsh Ismael, along with a number of other officials.
Shammari “stressed the continuation of the operations against infiltrators into Iraqi territory,” and underlined with Ismael that Erbil and Baghdad had been coordinating in matters of security to capture Islamic State fugitives.
The developments come a week after Turkey’s military campaign into northern and northeastern Syria began in a move that has been widely condemned by the international community. Acts committed in northern Syria by Ankara and Islamist groups it backs have repeatedly sparked allegations of war crimes.
Along with indiscriminate killing of civilians by Turkish aerial bombardments, a recent attack on a prison holding Islamic State members has reportedly led to an unspecified number of insurgents fleeing.
Ankara’s military campaign in northern Syria came after the White House announced it was withdrawing American forces from strategic areas in the region following a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.