Iraq’s National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji discussed with the Deputy Commander of the International Coalition Forces, Gerald Strickland, the future of the relationship between the two parties, and Iraqi ISIS militants.
Strickland reviewed the volume of air, intelligence and advisory support for the Iraqi security forces, and the importance of continuous coordination in protecting the border with Syria.
A statement issued by Araji’s media office said that the two officials also addressed the issue of Iraqi families in camps east of the Euphrates in Syria.
The adviser also addressed the importance of international support, especially in training, equipping and arming the military and security forces. He thanked the international community for its partnership in fighting ISIS and eliminating terrorism, stressing that the Iraqi government is keen on maintaining such relations.
Araji indicated that Iraq is looking forward to the help of the international community in finding non-military solutions to regional crises which will have a greater impact on stability and consolidating peace on the region.
Head of Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies and security expert Moataz Mohieddin said that after the fall of ISIS, most of its leaders escaped to al-Hol camp under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), noting that the camp became a hotbed for the terrorist organization.
Mohieddin explained to Asharq al-Awsat that for over 30 years, the camp housed Iraqi refugees who fled the Gulf War, and then it became a shelter for Iraqis after the US-led invasion in 2003.
Al-Hol is one of three main camps established on the Iraqi-Syrian border, but ISIS targeted this area in particular because it is a vast oasis that is easily accessed, said Mohieddin.
He pointed out that the circumstances helped make this camp comfortable for refugees, such as the humanitarian and financial aid sent by the Turkish and US government through European organizations, which made the camp hospitable for ISIS terrorists.
Mohieddin said the Iraqi government is not prepared to decide on areas in the Nineveh plains to host some militants or their Iraqi families. He added that the coronavirus pandemic also made it impossible to transfer the families from the camp in Syria to Nineveh under the supervision of the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities.
However, the expert noted that the situation may have changed and US and European officials insist on transferring ISIS families from the camp, especially Iraqis, to the Nineveh plain, although it may now be more difficult due to the Turkish forces' incursion into many of these areas.