ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A plane from Baghdad carrying 30 children of Islamic State (IS) members flew to Russia on Sunday, Russia’s Ambassador to Iraq said.
Passengers on board the flight included children aged 3 to 10 from Chechnya, Moscow, Penza, and Dagestan, Ambassador Maksim Maksimov told AFP. He added that more children would be resettled in the future.
The children’s mothers are currently in Iraqi prisons while their fathers are thought to have died during the years-long IS war in Iraq and Syria, an official from Iraq’s Justice Ministry told AFP.
Earlier in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would continue to bring home children of Russian citizens who joined the extremist group in Iraq and Syria, noting that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov would take the lead role on that matter.
In a statement on his Telegram channel on Sunday, Kadyrov confirmed that the flight departed Baghdad’s international airport and was heading to the Russian capital.
According to the Chechen leader, the plane was carrying 24 children from Dagestan, three from Chechnya, and the other three from Moscow and Penza.
Baghdad is currently conducting trials for hundreds of foreign women who Iraqi troops detained during military operations to liberate the country from the grip of the militants over the past few years.
Following the emergence of the extremist group in Iraq and Syria in 2014, thousands of foreign nationals joined IS. Accompanying them were women who came from different parts of the world.
Officials from Iraq’s Interior Ministry previously said they had contacted home countries to facilitate the return of the foreign prisoners. However, most Western countries prefer that their nationals remain in Iraq and be brought to justice.
According to Iraq’s counterterrorism law, aiding or membership in the extremist group carries the penalty of life in prison or death.