The New York Times reports: The Islamic State calls them “inghimasi” — zealous foot soldiers who intend to fight to their deaths. And as the American-backed coalition has reclaimed territory from the group in Iraq and Syria, that fervor has kept prisoners from being much of a problem: The shooting only stops when almost every Islamic State fighter has been killed.
But that could change as the coalition moves toward the Islamic State’s largest urban strongholds — Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria — raising a potential problem for the United States. If the coalition is successful and thousands of ordinary members of a collapsing Islamic State have nowhere left to retreat, will they start to surrender in greater numbers? And if so, who will be responsible for imprisoning them?
After the experiences of the past decade in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration is determined not to revive large-scale detention operations. But it is far from clear whether allies on the ground — especially rebels in Syria — are prepared to hold large numbers of prisoners, raising the prospect of an ugly aftermath to any victory.
“If they’re not killed but detained, we are concerned about the standards of care, who would do it and how it would be done,” Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in an interview. [Continue reading…]