Fuad Hussein, Iraq’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, said Monday that his government was concerned the recent events in Syria could lead to dangerous militants entering Iraq and eroding its fragile security.

Hussein said militant cells remained in some parts of Iraq even after the Islamic State militant group had been deprived of its ability to hold territory. The government now fears the instability in central and eastern Syria could lead to militant fighters going free.

“Once again with this action I am afraid that we are going to give rebirth to ISIS,” he told reporters during a visit to Washington.

Hussein said that after the Iraqi military, with help from Shiite militias and international forces, largely defeated the Islamic State in 2017, Iraqis had begun to think that a long period of successive conflicts was behind them.


“But once again we’re facing threat of war,” he said.

The government in Baghdad remained in discussions with Western countries about whether Iraq could take custody of thousands of suspected militants now in Syrian Kurdish-controlled prisons in Syria, he added.

Hussein said that Iraqi Kurdistan had already absorbed 250,000 Syrian refugees since that country’s conflict erupted in 2011 and that thousands more fleeing the fighting in northern Syria were now arriving in the region.

“Imagine if we will receive 100,000 or 150,000 more? That will be a big problem,” he said.

This month, Turkey launched an offensive in northeastern Syria targeting Syrian Kurdish fighters who aided the United States in the battle against the Islamic State. Turkey views the Syrian Kurds as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has waged a ­war for autonomy in Turkey.

The Kurds have maintained a constellation of prisons in Syria holding thousands of Islamic State militants, a handful of whom are believed to have already escaped amid the recent turmoil.