Individuals wanted on charges of terrorism and other crimes have started surrendering to security units across Iraq, Ministry of Interior officials said. The wanted individuals are heeding the Iraqi government's call to voluntarily surrender in return for guarantees of humanitarian treatment and a fair trial.
The initiative involves individuals implicated in crimes against Iraqis, including extortion, murder, theft, armed robbery, forgery, forced displacement, and other charges.
The Iraqi Ministry of Interior gave suspects a two-month deadline to turn themselves in.
After the deadline expires, Iraqi forces plan to launch a security campaign across the country to arrest the remaining wanted individuals.
"If they do not turn themselves in, Iraqi security agencies will chase all those…involved in terrorist acts harmful to the Iraqi people, their armed forces, or their infrastructure and vital facilities," said Alaa al-Taey, spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior.
Al-Taey said those who voluntarily turn themselves in will be dealt with favorably.
"We will support the completion of judicial investigations with them as soon as possible and with transparency," he said.
"The deadline given by Iraqi forces comes from a position of power and control of the situation in all areas across Iraq," said Baghdad Operations Command spokesperson Gen. Qassim Atta. "Security reports confirm the dire condition of al-Qaeda and the other terrorist groups, which makes them preoccupied with how to protect themselves rather than launch large-scale operations."
Atta said the Iraqi government will also extend a helping hand and express its appreciation to anyone who provides additional information to help security forces establish security "in a way that guarantees the right of Iraqis to live in freedom and permanent stability away from violence and extremism."
Diyala police chief Gen. Abdul Hussain al-Shemari called the initiative a "great success".
"There is optimism that the coming days will see many wanted individuals turning themselves in to benefit from the guarantees that the Ministry of Interior has promised," he said. "This is in addition to the discovery of other criminals or weapons caches."
Gen. Tarik al-Asal, an adviser to the Minister of Interior, said it is important for wanted individuals to take advantage of the offer quickly.
"The deadline is specific. Terrorists and wanted individuals have to benefit from it as soon as possible," he said. "Soon, not one of the terrorists who did not listen to reason will escape from trial or darkness of prison because of the harm and shameful disasters they inflicted on Iraqis."
Sheikh Nabhan Ali al-Shemari, leader of Shemar tribe in Iraq, said tribal sheikhs support the Iraqi forces' initiative to quickly apprehend suspects.
"Sheikhs are helping the security forces by convincing the wanted individuals that they will receive good treatment when they turn themselves in to Iraqi security forces," al-Shemari said.
"The promises made by the security agencies is a promising start that will help make tens or even hundreds of wanted individuals surrender in the coming weeks," said Sheikh Hammadi al-Jubouri, imam and preacher of Baqubah mosque.
"As clerics, we call on all wanted individuals to turn themselves in before the Iraqi forces arrest them," al-Jubouri said. "We are determined to put an end to the file of terrorism in Iraq this year, whether the terrorists like it or not."
PHOTO: [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images] Iraqi forces will aggressively pursue terrorism suspects who do not turn themselves in to security forces.