Iraqi officials are having to deal with a massive influx of civilian refugees as their military is putting the final touches on crushing the army of the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. To compound matters, they’re dealing with a huge influx of military age men, who, dirty and pitiful looking are arriving at checkpoints begging for mercy and claiming to be legitimate refugees.

But Iraqi officials believe that up to 90 percent of them are ISIS fighters and that many have committed atrocities against Iraqi civilians and military. And they’re taking no chances, as each is being interrogated thoroughly.

While civilians from the stronghold, the city of Hawija, have sought safety in Kirkuk and elsewhere in Iraq’s Kurdish region, this past weekend was the first time they came in large numbers with men of fighting age.

Iraqi Kurdish officials were taking no chances on Sunday (Oct 1) as they prepared one suspected fighter in a small office as his wife and four children squatted on the dirt outside.

A lieutenant in the Asayish, the Iraqi Kurdish region’s intelligence service, put one hand on his holstered pistol and pointed with the other hand at a spot on the tiled floor. The prisoner understood and knelt on that spot, as an Asayish corporal tied the man’s hands behind his back with a scarf.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, I’m not going to spy for you,” said the man, Salah Hassan, 32, who described himself as a former construction worker.

“We don’t care about that,” the lieutenant said. “Just tell the truth.”

“Yes, tell them you’re ISIS,” the corporal said, brandishing a pipe in the prisoner’s face. “Don’t lie.”

Hassan hung his head and admitted it, then looked up. “I was only a cook.”

The Iraqi forces don’t buy that excuse, joking that with so many cooks, it would seem all ISIS did was eat. The men, deserting the fight to run and fight away another time are acting passively but their families, mostly the women freely admit they were ISIS families.

Thus far, the Iraqis are treating their ISIS prisoners much better than the Islamic State showed Iraqi civilians during their occupation.

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