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The U.S. military has started to send some foreign fighters captured in Iraq back to their home countries as part of an effort to reduce the number of security detainees held by U.S. forces, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Task Force 134, which handles detainees, told the paper that the U.S. military in June and July sent about 15 detainees back to Saudi Arabia and five to Egypt after reaching agreements with the two countries, though the numbers are approximations because the precise numbers are classified.

They are the first detainees from Iraq to be returned to their home countries, Lt. Col. Kenneth Plowman, a military spokesman in Iraq, told USA Today. More repatriations are "in the works," he said.

The U.S. military is holding about 200 foreigners, down from approximately 450 in spring 2006, according to the report. Task Force 134 said that the U.S. is holding just under 21,000 detainees, down from nearly 26,000 last year, USA Today wrote. Some detainees, including foreigners, are turned over to the Iraqi government for prosecution, and others are released if they are judged to no longer be a threat.

Not all foreign detainees will return home, the paper noted. Some foreigners have already been convicted by Iraq’s judicial system and are being held in U.S. detention systems. They may end up in Iraqi prisons, USA Today wrote.


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