WASHINGTON, March 9, 2016 — Leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant who are captured by the Expeditionary Targeting Force and held
for questioning will be detained by the force only for short periods of time
and the detention will be coordinated with Iraqi authorities, a Pentagon
spokesman said today.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told defense reporters here that ETF
missions, first announced in October, are conducting operations as part of the
coalition fight there against ISIL.
“One of the missions that we anticipate they will do is to
capture a small number of ISIL leaders,” Davis said. “The detention of these
[leaders] we anticipate will be very short-term [and] coordinated with Iraqi
ETF members are capable of conducting raids, freeing hostages,
gathering intelligence and capturing ISIL leaders, he said.
“These types of operations, unlike airstrikes, can result in
getting information we can use to conduct follow-on operations that save
lives,” Davis added.
Capturing ISIL Leaders
Such an operation was demonstrated last year in Syria when ETF
members conducted an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture ISIL
senior leader Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf, the captain added.
Sayyaf was involved in ISIL's military operations and helped
direct illicit oil, gas and financial operations, he said.
“That detention led to information that helped illuminate and
shape follow-on operations,” Davis said.
The law of armed conflict allows detainees to be held until
hostilities cease, he said, adding, “That's why we still have detainees at
Guantanamo, for example.”
What’s different now in Iraq and Afghanistan than in years past,
Davis said, “is that we have functional governments there that we work with,
that we cooperate with, and we can hand [detainees] over to those local
ISIL Inflicts Death, Destruction
Davis added, “We should have no misconceptions about ISIL. “This
is a group that does not observe international laws or international norms.
They have demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to inflict death and
destruction on innocent people.”
In November, for example, an Organization for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons fact-finding mission confirmed that in the town of Marea, near
Aleppo in Syria, at least two people were exposed to sulfur mustard and were in
the process of recovering from the exposure. The report said it was “very
likely” that the effects of sulfur mustard resulted in the death of a baby.
Sulfur mustard, usually in powdered form, Davis said, is put
into artillery shells or rockets and when those explode a dust cloud is created
that can sicken or kill those nearby.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)