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Families of Local IS Members Face Rejection in Iraq  

Children gather around Sukaina Mohammed Ali, a top official of the local Mosul government, at an orphanage in Mosul, Iraq. Nearly 60 children are kept in two orphanages in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, Aug. 19, 2018.

More than one year after its liberation from Islamic State terror, the Iraqi city of Mosul still suffers from scars left behind.

Families and children of the terror group have returned to their homes in Mosul, facing rejection and shame by the local community. One widow of a former IS fighter in Mosul, who requested anonymity, told VOA she and her two children have been going through a distressing situation for being linked to an IS member.

"My husband was an IS member, but what does this have to do with me? If my husband joined the al-Qaida group, what does this have to do with my children? The family and parents have nothing to do with someone's affiliation with a terror group," she said.

She added that her entire family is punished for being related to a former IS member. Her father has been in prison for two years now after being accused of having relations with IS.

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Families of Local IS Members Face Rejection by Iraqi Society
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The widow said her ex-husband was killed when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces freed the town of Hamam al-Alil in southern Mosul.

Hamam al-Alil was liberated from IS in November 2016.

IS stronghold

Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, was a major IS stronghold when the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced his so-called caliphate in 2014.

Some 20,000 women were widowed, and at least 13,000 children were orphaned, during the Mosul battle, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic reported.

According to Amnesty International, many women and children with perceived ties to IS members were placed in different Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. Those who were able to return were subjected to attacks, evictions arrests and other abuses.

Rehabilitation calls

Some civil society groups and humanitarian organizations have voiced concern about the situation, calling on the Iraqi government and international bodies to take the issue seriously.

Some activists said supporting reintegration and reconciliation efforts among Iraqi communities could be one way to tackle the issue.

"We are facing a reality today. The families of IS who were sent away to camps are placed together, and this extremist thought will continue to grow and will spread among them," Badar Fares, a Mosul-based civil society activist, told VOA.

He added that if society and Iraqi authorities continue to ignore these families and leave them to their own fate, the result will be even more resentment, which could in part spread extremist thought among them.

"If we reintegrate them with the rest of society, and they see how the people are living and interacting with each other with forgiveness, peace and love, it will passively affect them," Fares said.

Analysts such as Loay Ghanim echo Fares's concerns, and charge that rehabilitation of former IS families is a situation everyone must face.

"There might be assassinations or explosions, because they [IS family member] will see themselves as outcasts. No one will accept them or want to deal with them because we chose to isolate them," Ghanim said. "It is necessary for them to be reintegrated into the society."

Ghanim added that coming up with a practical solution to the issue will protect IS fighters' children from taking the path of their fathers.

In October 2016, Iraqi security forces launched a major military offensive on the city of Mosul to liberate it from IS militants. The offensive lasted nearly nine months.

But despite being liberated, the city has witnessed several major terror attacks in recent months. Authorities are blaming the attacks on remnants of IS militants in the region.