In a camp south of Mosul, the Iraqi government is holding 1,400 foreign wives and children of men suspected of being Islamic State fighters, and they are trying to figure out what to do with them all, Reuters reports.
Security and aid officials told Reuters that most of the women hail from Turkey, while others are from Russia, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan; "very few" are French and German. After Iraqi forces pushed ISIS out of Mosul, many militants and their families fled to Tal Afar, and eventually surrendered to Kurdish peshmerga forces. The women and children were released to the Iraqi government, but the men were placed in Kurdish custody. Because so many of the women and children do not have their original passports, it's taking some time to determine their nationalities and where they should go. An Iraqi interior ministry official told Reuters his country can't keep that many people in custody for a long time, and he wants to start working with embassies to return these women to their home countries.
Army Colonel Ahmed al-Taie told Reuters the families are being held under "tight security measures," and the army is "waiting for government orders on how to deal with them." He said the army is "treating them well," and while they are related to "tough criminals who killed innocents in cold blood," Iraqi forces have interrogated many and found "almost all of them were misled" by "vicious" ISIS propaganda. Reuters reporters were allowed to visit the camp, and they met several women who said they were tricked into coming to Iraq and Syria by their husbands; one 27-year-old French woman of Algerian descent said her husband brought her to Iraq last year when he joined ISIS, after lying and saying they were going to Turkey on vacation. Their 5-year-old son was killed during an airstrike in Mosul this June, she said, and her husband later died in battle. "Dead or alive, I couldn't care less about him," she told Reuters.