ISSN 2330-717X

US Detentions Of Islamic State Members In Iraq Will Be Short-Term Only, Official Says


By Cheryl Pellerin

Leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant who are captured by the Expeditionary Targeting Force and held for questioning will be detained by the force only for short periods of time and the detention will be coordinated with Iraqi authorities, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told defense reporters here that ETF missions, first announced in October, are conducting operations as part of the coalition fight there against ISIL.

“One of the missions that we anticipate they will do is to capture a small number of ISIL leaders,” Davis said. “The detention of these [leaders] we anticipate will be very short-term [and] coordinated with Iraqi authorities.”

ETF members are capable of conducting raids, freeing hostages, gathering intelligence and capturing ISIL leaders, he said.

“These types of operations, unlike airstrikes, can result in getting information we can use to conduct follow-on operations that save lives,” Davis added.

Capturing ISIL Leaders

Such an operation was demonstrated last year in Syria when ETF members conducted an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture ISIL senior leader Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf, the captain added.

Sayyaf was involved in ISIL’s military operations and helped direct illicit oil, gas and financial operations, he said.

“That detention led to information that helped illuminate and shape follow-on operations,” Davis said.

The law of armed conflict allows detainees to be held until hostilities cease, he said, adding, “That’s why we still have detainees at Guantanamo, for example.”

What’s different now in Iraq and Afghanistan than in years past, Davis said, “is that we have functional governments there that we work with, that we cooperate with, and we can hand [detainees] over to those local sovereign governments.”

ISIL Inflicts Death, Destruction

Davis added, “We should have no misconceptions about ISIL. “This is a group that does not observe international laws or international norms. They have demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to inflict death and destruction on innocent people.”

In November, for example, an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fact-finding mission confirmed that in the town of Marea, near Aleppo in Syria, at least two people were exposed to sulfur mustard and were in the process of recovering from the exposure. The report said it was “very likely” that the effects of sulfur mustard resulted in the death of a baby.

Sulfur mustard, usually in powdered form, Davis said, is put into artillery shells or rockets and when those explode a dust cloud is created that can sicken or kill those nearby.

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