An Iraqi soldier tears down an ISIS flag in Mosul. File photo: Mahmud Saleh / AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Two brothers from Kalar were handed a five year prison sentence on Sunday when a Sulaimani court found them guilty of communicating with Islamic State (ISIS) militants over the internet.
According to a statement issued by the Garmiyan Asayish press office, the two convicted felons were arrested in June 2018.
“The Kirkuk/Garmiyan Criminal Court on January 13, 2019, sentenced the two brothers to five years and one month in prison,” the statement read.
The brothers were aged between 19 and 21.
When ISIS swept across large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, a large number of extremist Kurds in the Kurdistan Region pledged allegiance to the group.
According to some estimates, around 500 Kurds including women and teenagers joined the group, many of whom were killed during the battle to liberate ISIS held territory.
The Iraqi government declared the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017 after security forces, Peshmerga, and the US-led coalition succeeded in recapturing the major urban centers seized by militants.
However, a low level insurgency has continued across several provinces, particularly Kirkuk, Diyala, and Saladin, while ISIS remnants have exploited security gaps between Iraqi Army and Peshmerga lines.
ISIS and its fragments continue to operate in the Hamrin mountains close to Kalar.
Several security experts have warned the group could make a comeback if economic and sectarian resentments are not addressed or if Baghdad and the international community neglect long term development and conflict resolution.