Children of Russian IS fighters return home from Iraq

Children of Russian IS fighters return home from Iraq
Thirty Russian children who were born to IS fighters will return home to Russia from Iraq.
2 min read
30 December, 2018
IS wives and their children remain behind bars in Iraq [file photo-Getty]

Thirty Russian children, whose mothers are being held in Iraqi prisons for allegedly being members of the Islamic State group, are due to return home following an agreement between Moscow and Baghdad.

The children who are aged between three and ten are believed to have been fathered by IS fighters who were later killed fighting Iraqi and Kurdish forces over the past three years, a source told AFP.

Chechen ruler ally Ramzan Kadyrov - a strong ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin - said earlier this week that he expected the children to arrive in Moscow on Sunday.

Of the 30 children, 24 were from the Muslim-majority region of Dagestan, while three were from Chechnya.

It is believed that thousands of Russians travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State group following the establishment of its so-called "caliphate" in 2014.

Some of the Russian fighters took their families with them, according to Russian security services. 

Around 100 women and children - mostly from Muslim-majority Caucasus regions - have returned to Russia under a programme championed by Kadyrov since last year.

Chechen activist Kheda Saratova last month accused Russia's security services of blocking attempts to bring back the remaining widows and children of Russian IS fighters.

"According to our organisation, there are over 2,000 of them left in Syria and Iraq," Saratova, who is on Kadyrov's human rights council, said at the time.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi met with Anna Kuznetsova, the Russian president's envoy for the rights of children, in Baghdad on Sunday with the issue of the IS fighters' believed to be a key issue in the talks.

Abdel Mahdi said a "distinction should be made between humanitarian issues and terrorist crimes", according to a statement from his office. "These children are also victims," he added.

Baghdad has used an iron fist in dealing with the foreign wives of IS fighters, some of whom the Iraqi government accuse of being key components in the jihadi group's apparatus of oppression.

More than 300 people, including around 100 foreigners, have been sentenced to death by Iraq's judiciary.

Many others have been handed life sentences for being members of the group from its birth in 2014, following earlier al-Qaeda linked reincarnations.

Baghdad declared victory against IS in December last year, but militants from the group have carried out periodic hit-and-run attacks.