Around 12 to 15 Indians fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) against Iraqi security forces recently, Iraqi envoy to India Fakhri H. Al Issa said. Speaking to the media to commemorate the victory of the Iraqi forces against IS in the city of Mosul, Mr. Al Issa said some of the Indians who fought in Iraq might have returned home and sought defence cooperation with India to defeat the outfit.
“We know that at least 12 to 15 Indians were among the large number of foreign fighters who fought against our security forces during the ongoing operations in Iraq. Foreign fighters came from different parts of the world including China, Japan, North and East Africa to fight in Iraq. We do not know what really happened subsequently to the Indians, but our information is that that (sic) is the total number of Indians in IS,” said Mr.Al Issa addressing the media in the embassy of Iraq. He said that foreign fighters were often killed and many also managed to escape.
“We feel that some of the Indian fighters might have escaped and returned home in the way many foreign fighters returned home in Europe,” he said, addressing the media at the Iraq Embassy.
Mr. Al Issa also said that India had extended humanitarian and military support during the campaign to free Mosul but the Iraqi government was taking time to consider the offer. However, he added that Iraq needed military support and urged India to collaborate with Iraq to defeat the Islamic State. “Victory of Iraq in Mosul is victory for India. A stable and strong Iraq will mean stable and strong India,” said the ambassador reiterating Iraqi need for military assistance.
India had extended light military equipment, and medical support and also offered to train Iraqi security forces, said the envoy who maintained that the issues were under discussion. “This must have featured in bilateral talks when Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar visited our country recently,” he said.
Mr. Al-Issa said that despite military victory of Iraqi forces in Mosul, pockets of resistance still remain to be conquered and indicated that Iraq has no concrete idea about what happened to the 39 Indians who were kidnapped by IS in Mosul in 2014.
“We really have no information about what really happened to them. The border between Iraq and Syria was open for long and it is possible that the captives might have been transferred to IS controlled areas in Syria,” he said, explaining that India should also consider conducting forensic tests of the mass graves that have been discovered in different parts of Iraq where IS had dumped bodies of their victims.
The envoy said that Iraq is looking forward to normalisation following the end of the war, and sought help from India. For that, bilateral discussions will be held when Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari visits Delhi this weekend, he said.