12 to 15 Indians fought alongside IS against Iraqi forces, says Ambassador

Foreign fighters came from different parts of the world including China, Japan, North and East Africa to fight in Iraq, says Iraqi envoy to India Fakhri H. Al Issa. In this June 2014 file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group in Mosul.   | Photo Credit: AP

At least 12 to 15 Indians recently fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) against Iraqi security forces, Iraqi envoy to India Fakhri H. Al Issa told journalists on Wednesday on the occasion of the commemoration of the victory of the Iraqi forces against the IS in the city of Mosul.

Some of the Indians who fought in Iraq might have returned home. “We know that at least 12 to 15 Indians were among the large number of foreign fighters who fought against our security forces during the ongoing operations in Iraq. Foreign fighters came from different parts of the world, including China, Japan, North and East Africa to fight in Iraq. We do not know what really happened subsequently to the Indians, but our information is that that (sic) is the total number of Indians in IS,” said Mr. Al Issa at the Embassy of Iraq.

Foreign fighters often were killed and many managed to escape. “We feel that some of the Indian fighters might have escaped and returned home in the way many foreign fighters returned home in Europe,” he said.

Plea for military support

Mr. Al Issa noted that India had offered humanitarian and military support in the campaign to free Mosul but the Iraqi government was taking time to consider the offer. He, however, added that Iraq needed military support and urged India to collaborate with Iraq to defeat the Islamic State. “Victory of Iraq in Mosul is a victory for India. A stable and strong Iraq will mean stable and strong India,” he said. 

India had offered also medical support and training to Iraqi security forces and the issues were under discussion. “This must have featured in talks when Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar visited our country recently,” he said.

Fate of kidnapped Indians unknown

Mr. Al-Issa said that despite the military victory of the Iraqi forces in Mosul, pockets of resistance still remain to be conquered and indicated that Iraq has no concrete idea about what happened to the 39 Indians who were kidnapped by the IS in Mosul in 2014.

“We really have no information about what really happened to them. The border between Iraq and Syria was open for long and it is possible that the captives might have been transferred to IS controlled areas in Syria,” he said, explaining that India should also consider conducting forensic tests of the mass graves that have been discovered in different parts of Iraq where the IS had dumped bodies of their victims.

Iraq is looking forward to normalisation following the end of the war, and sought help from India. For that, bilateral discussions would be held when Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari visits Delhi this weekend, he said.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 11:11:30 AM |

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