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33 children of Russian Daesh militants return home from Iraq

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture taken on April 29, 2018 in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq shows Russian women who have been sentenced to life in prison for joining Daesh standing with their children in a hallway. (Photo by AFP)

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry says a group of more than thirty Russian children, whose mothers are being held in the Arab country for membership in the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, have been repatriated from Baghdad.

The ministry’s spokesman, Ahmad al-Sahhaf, in a statement released on Monday, announced that the repatriation of the 33 children came after coordination with the Russian embassy in Iraq.

Sahhaf went on to say that strenuous efforts are underway to facilitate the return of Daesh militants’ children to their home countries, with the assistance of competent authorities from the Supreme Judicial Council, Ministry of Justice as well as the security service.

An unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry official said on February 10 that 27 Russian children had been repatriated from Baghdad.

The fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between militants and Iraqi troops, the official said at the time.

On December 30 last year, 30 Russian children born to Daesh terrorists were sent back to Moscow from Iraq.

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said on December 4 that Moscow had received hundreds of requests from the widows of Daesh terrorists, who were killed either in Iraq or Syria over the past few years, to return home.

Moskalkova said over 1,000 requests had been submitted to Russian authorities, adding that the women had “sustained an unimaginable violence.”

She further noted that the repatriation of the Daesh widows is a difficult process given the fact that they have been involved in acts of terror and their return could pose a threat to the safety of Russian citizens.

On April 29, 2018, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which is the country's flagship criminal justice institution, found 19 female Russian citizens guilty of “joining and supporting Daesh” and handed down life sentences to them.

The court issued the verdicts as the women, all accompanied by small children, attended the hearing.

Ziyad Sabsabi, a Russian senator and deputy chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, had earlier warned that the Russian women would face death penalty, noting that most of them had denied their charges.

He pointed out that there were children, less than three years of age, who were kept in jail along with their mothers.

According to a report published by Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Mashriq newspaper, more than 1,500 women and children from the families of Daesh militants are currently being held in the Arab country, and the Baghdad government is coordinating with their respective countries to decide their fate.

Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

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