TAL AFAR, Iraq – About 50 women and children of ISIS militants fleeing once-held Tal Afar west of Mosul have been detained by the Kurdish Peshmerga in the last three days.
They come from various nationalities such as Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Tajikistani.
Families interviewed by Rudaw say their ISIS husbands were killed during fighting with the Iraqi forces both in the now-liberated Tal Afar and Mosul.
Aisha Saref, a Russian wife who left Russia to Iraq with her parents when she was 16 three years ago, is now left with a child.
“In 2015, my parents and I left Russia to Tal Afar,” she said from a Peshmerga position near Qasab al-Ra’i village north of Tal Afar “ My mother is here, but my father was killed. We are now in this situation. We do not know what to do.”
Kazhal Ali is a Kurdish woman from the Iranian city of Kermanshah. She left Iran to Tal Afar with her husband named Abdullah Ahmad and their child.
She claimed that she was forced to join her husband because of her child.
“We were married for five years, two years here and three years in Iran. I had a two-year-old son. He said: ‘If you don’t come with me, I will take your son away.’ So I came with him. We came to Turkey, Syria and then Mosul.”
Ali said that her husband was killed in Mosul seven months ago, and her son was killed when their house was bombed in Mosul.
She said the deteriorating situation in Mosul pushed her to flee to the Turkmen city of Tal Afar where she stayed for five months.
As ISIS was about to lose control over the majority Turkmen city, she said she left the city to the desert and then handed over herself to the Kurdish Peshmerga.
Jamal Saado, a Peshmerga commander, told Rudaw English that they have arrested many such ISIS families, and that the 50-or-so figure is only from the last three days.
He said that Saturday morning they detained two more ISIS wives, one a national from Iran, and the second a Kurdish woman from the city of Kalar of the Kurdistan Region.
He said that they will refer the ISIS families to a camp in Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, and that some may be tried in Iraqi courts.
The commander said that the ISIS families prefer to come towards the Peshmerga position because they treat them well.
“The way we treat the displaced, with the families and children is very good,” the commander explained. “We provide them food and drinks. We then hand them over to a school in Sahl al-Mal village. There, through the NGOs and the security forces, they will take those suspected [of crimes] to a court, and the rest are referred to the NGOs and sent to camps.”
The Kurdish Peshmerga said they have killed more than 100 ISIS militants in the area who tried either to approach their positions or flee to Syria.
When Rudaw visited the areas, there were bodies lying on the ground of what the Peshmerga claimed were ISIS militants who wanted to attack their positions.