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Over 90 children of jailed Russian women to be repatriated from Iraq — Chechen official

June 01, 7:47 UTC+3 GROZNY

A special flight with the first group of 25 children on board is expected to depart from Baghdad in June

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© AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal

GROZNY, June 1. /TASS/. More than 90 children, whose mothers are held in custody in Iraq, will be repatriated to Russia, Representative of the Chechen Leader in the Middle Eastern and North African Countries Ziyad Sabsabi said.

During the meeting with the Chechen government on Thursday evening, Sabsabi said a special flight with the first group of 25 children on board is expected to depart from Baghdad in June.

"94 children will be brought back to their homeland. The first group will consist of 49 children, 25 of them already have all documents required for the return. Those are children of women, sentenced to lengthy prison terms by the Iraqi authorities," he said.

"During the second stage, we will return children, born outside Russia, to their closest relatives. This task is going to be more difficult, because 45 children were born abroad: 38 - in Iraq, one in Syria, five in Turkey and one in Germany. We will ask their relatives, preferably paternal ones, to provide DNA samples allowing to prove the fact of a child’s citizenship, so that they could eventually return home," the Chechen official continued.

Later in the day, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in his Telegram channel that an agreement was reached with the Iraqi government, under which Russian-speaking children, whose mothers were convicted in Iraq, will not be placed for adoption by local families.

"I would like to stress that all children are under Russian jurisdiction. We also have an agreement with the Iraqi authorities that the Russian-speaking children will not be placed for adoption by Iraqi families," Kadyrov said.

According to the Chechen leader, out of 49 Russian women currently in custody in Iraq, 21 were sentenced to life in prison, two were sentenced to death, 26 are awaiting trial.

In recent months, more than 100 women and underage children - residents of Chechnya, Dagestan and other Russian regions, as well citizens of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan - have been evacuated from Iraq and Syria to Russia with the assistance of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. However, the Iraqi authorities have recently toughened the procedure of their return. Currently, all foreign women and girls aged above 14, who were staying in Iraq and had ties with the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia), are automatically charged with terrorism and border violations.

In April, the Criminal Court of Iraq sentenced 19 female Russian citizens to life sentences for joining the Islamic State. The Al-Quds Al-Arabi pan-Arab daily wrote that the majority of defendants said they were forcibly brought to Iraq by their husbands, who were IS members. After the city of Tal Afar in the Nineveh Governorate of northwestern Iraq was liberated from terrorists, their wives and children surrendered to Iraqi-Kurdish fighters, the Peshmerga, who took part in the operation. Some women intentionally destroyed their IDs or lost their passports in hostilities.

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