Dozens of dead bodies of foreign ISIS recruits are piling up in Iraqi hospitals because their home countries don’t want them and local cemeteries won’t take them either, according to a high official in the nation’s Interior Ministry.
Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar Al Iraq cited an unnamed, high-ranking ministry official who said more than 100 bodies of jihadists from 13 different nations are scattered around in various hospitals in Iraq while the government tries to figure out where and how they will be disposed of. Nations refusing to take back dead fighters’ bodies were not named, but said to include Arab, European and Asian countries.
“Burn them or drown them, we don’t want them,” the official quoted the countries as telling Iraq. “We took away their citizenship.”
“Burn them or drown them, we don’t want them.”
- Foreign governments to Iraqi officials
Most of the fallen fighters were killed in combat with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces or by coalition air strikes. Some are jihadists who were executed for committing acts of terrorism. Several nations have moved to revoke citizenship of residents known to have left to join Islamic State.
“These nations wanted to send a message first to Iraq; a message of support against terrorism and radicalism, and second to tell the people who want to fight with ISIS that they mean nothing to their countries and people,” the Interior Ministry official said.
Locally, Iraqi civilians and politicians are refusing to allow the foreign terrorists’ bodies to be buried in cemeteries, according to the London-based Arabic newspaper Al Quds Alarabi.
The ministry official said talks are underway with the nations involved to explore possible options for getting rid of the unwanted remains, including burial in the desert in western Iraq.
An official with Iraq’s Interior Ministry denied the unidentified colleague’s claims, and said Iraq is responsible for burying bodies of Islamic State militants.
A U.S. State Department official told FoxNews.com that, for American citizens who are killed fighting abroad, it is up to his or her family to decide whether to bring their remains home.
“When a U.S. citizen dies abroad, the Bureau of Consular Affairs assists the family and friends during this difficult time,” the official said. “The Bureau of Consular Affairs will locate and inform the next-of-kin of the U.S. citizen’s death and provides information on how to make arrangements for local burial or return of the remains to the United States.”
The latest data from the International Center for Study of Radicalization and Political Violence shows more than 20,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State.
The highest numbers of Islamic State fighters come from the Arab world. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia have each documented more than 1,500 citizens who have joined Islamic State. Western Europe accounted 4,000 fighters, with France leading the rank with nearly 1,200 militants. There have been an estimated few hundred from the United States and Canada.