A US-backed force pushing to take the Islamic State group's last speck of territory in eastern Syria on Sunday extradited 280 Iraqi jihadists, Iraq authorities said. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have detained "a large number" of ISIS fighters "of multiple nationalities, including more than 500 Iraqis", the security media office said in a statement. "So far 280 (Iraqis) have been delivered," it added. Iraqi security forces on Thursday received the first batch of 130 Iraqi IS members, a military spokesman said, although a spokesman for the US-backed force denied the claims.
The transfers were set to "continue until they are completed", the statement added. Iraqi security forces had received a list of names to be checked against a database in coordination with the judiciary, which has issued warrants against jihadists.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said at his weekly press conference Tuesday that the country was monitoring the situation in eastern Syria with caution, as security forces fear IS remnants could sneak across the nearby Iraqi border.
ALSO READ | Attempt to hijack Dubai-bound plane in Bangladesh, suspect gunned down by commandos
Iraq declared victory against IS in December 2017 after ousting the jihadists from the swathes of Iraq they took in 2014. Backed by air strikes from a US-led coalition, the SDF have trapped the jihadists in less than half a square kilometre (a fifth of a square mile) in a hamlet in the Syrian desert.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump said that the US is keeping about 200 US troops as part of the planned multinational force that would maintain a safe zone in north-eastern Syria. This force would be in addition to the 200 troops the US is planning to maintain after the withdrawal at its base in at-Tanf, Syria, the official said. "I'm not reversing course," Trump told reporters responding to a question on his decision on keeping some 200 US troops in Syria as against his previous decision on full withdrawal of more than 2,500 troops.
"I have done something that nobody else has been able to do. In another short period of time, like hours, you'll be hearing about the caliphate. It'll 100 per cent defeated. Nobody's been able to say that," Trump said.
"That doesn't mean there aren't some very bad people walking around and strapping on bombs and all of these things. But we've done a job that nobody else has been able to do," he said.