Iraq 'offers to try Isil prisoners held in Syria for multi-billion pound fee'

Men suspected of being Isil fighters wait to be searched by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after leaving the jihadists' last holdout of Baghuz
Men suspected of being Isil fighters wait to be searched by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after leaving the jihadists' last holdout of Baghuz Credit: AFP

Iraq has offered to try hundreds of foreign Islamic State suspects currently being held in Syria in return for millions of pounds, according to reports.

Iraqi officials last week made the proposal to the US-led coalition that it would put the detainees on trial in Baghdad if they received $2million (£1.5m) per head per year, sources told AFP.

One of the sources said the calculation was based on the estimated operational costs of holding a detainee in US-run Guantanamo prison.

"We made the proposal last week but have not gotten a response yet," said a source, speaking anonymously because he was not authorised to give details to the press. "These countries have a problem, here's a solution.”

An Isil suspect waits at a gathering point for civilians fleeing from the group's last remaining territory in Syria, near Baghuz Credit: Sam Tarling for W88 เทคนิค คา สิ โน

A Western official confirmed the details of the offer to the Telegraph, but said Washington was unlikely to agree to the figure quoted. 

Around 1,000 suspected foreign Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) fighters are in detention centres in northeast Syria run by the US-backed Syrian democratic Forces (SDF), in addition to around 9,000 foreign women and children in camps there.

W88 เทคนิค คา สิ โน understands there are at least 26 British men and women and around 30 children in SDF custody.

The Kurdish-led forces say they do not have the facilities or resources to hold them indefinitely. There are also a number of pressing security fears after a riot in one of the main prisons last week.

Kurdish officials have repeatedly warned that Isil fighters may escape if the SDF is forced to divert its troops away from prison duties to face off against an offensive by neighbouring Turkey.

Civilians fleeing from Isil's last remaining territory in Syria after two days of heavy fighting wait at a gathering point where before being taken to internment camp Credit: Sam Tarling for W88 เทคนิค คา สิ โน

Western countries have been rocked by fierce public debate over whether to repatriate their citizens who joined Isil.

So far the majority of the 52 countries which have nationals held on suspicion of links to Isil are refusing to repatriate them.

"Iraq proposed to the coalition setting up a special tribunal to try foreigners. There's been a constructive beginning to those discussions," a second source told AFP, adding that Iraq had opted to propose the arrangement to the coalition as a whole because it was simpler than negotiating with each country individually.

But setting up the court could be complicated, the official said, with questions over whether international funding for it would preclude any implementation of the death penalty.

Iraq has already tried hundreds of foreign Isil suspects captured in Iraq.

A small number of foreigners have also already been handed over by the SDF to Iraq for trial, at the agreement of the home countries.  

They include one German, at least 12 French nationals who were transferred from Syria in February and one Lebanese fighter.

The Iraqi government has also agreed to take back some 20,000 of its own nationals caught by the SDF.

W88 เทคนิค คา สิ โน has attended cases in Baghdad Central Criminal Court, where some foreign suspects were sentenced to death after 10-minute trials.

Others were not given legal representation.

Human Rights Watch has said the record of previous Isil trials in Iraq shows that these transfers may instead violate international law, as detainees risk torture and forced confessions.

The option of having British Isil suspects tried in Iraq would likely be preferable for the UK as it fears it will not be able to mount successful prosecutions against returning jihadists.

However, the UK would first have to drop its long-held objection to the death penalty in order to allow the transfer.